Over the coming months, we plan to bring you a series of podcasts covering the topics that matter in what we hope is in an engaging and useful way.
With the help of our trusted partners and experts, we will be discussing everything from staying independent, to insuring the things that matter, and the different ways to make the most of your later life.
Episode 1 - Divorce and what new ‘no fault’ changes mean
Life can be eventful and as circumstances change it can affect the relationships people have with those closest to them. Big milestones like retirement or grown children having families of their own can cause people to reflect on what they want from life, and some can find themselves drifting from their partner even after decades together. there's no longer the pressure to stay in unhappy relationships. That’s why we’re starting our podcast series with the important subject of divorce and talking to experts from Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, the providers of Age Co’s range of Legal Services.
Family law specialists Sarah Balfour and Emma McCann join Chloe John, a partnership manager at Age Co, to discuss the recent arrival of new ‘no fault’ divorce laws in April 2022 and what you might need to think about if you’re considering taking this life-changing step.
As Sarah explains, the changes to divorce laws are the biggest in 50 years and follow extensive campaigning by Resolution, the association of family lawyers, and a number of firms including Irwin Mitchell. The new legislation means that couples choosing to end their marriage no longer must blame their spouse, citing unreasonable behaviour or adultery for example. Now if one, or both partners no longer want to be married they can complete a simple process online and don’t need to place someone at fault.
There used to be a perception that once people reached a certain stage in life they wouldn’t separate or divorce because it wasn’t viewed as the ‘done thing’.
Today though attitudes to divorce have changed and it’s become less controversial and more socially acceptable.
People now recognise the importance of personal happiness and the opportunities that can come from a fresh start. It means that if they find they’ve grown apart from each other, couples are more willing to make changes to live the rest of their lives in the way that’s right for them.
Amicable or not, divorce can still be difficult and even more so when couples have been together for a long time. This is because over time they may have acquired more assets, such as houses, savings and pensions that need to be shared. Younger couples on the other hand may not yet be on the property ladder, or only just started to save into pensions.
Financial aspects can also become a greater concern with age as people worry more about their ability to ‘refill the pot’ or having enough money saved to live independently. There could be worries about ill-health and provision of care too. That’s why for anyone considering a separation, it’s important to seek financial and legal advice as soon as they can.
Through experience, Sarah knows that for some older clients, divorce can feel like a bereavement - mourning not only the end of the relationship but a previous way of life too. After years of having very established roles in their marriage, people can find themselves faced with dealing with things they’ve never needed to before. That could mean learning to cook and prepare meals, budgeting and paying bills, or even choosing where to go on holiday for the first time, for example.
It can be empowering to take on new responsibilities, but it can also be daunting or even overwhelming. Seeking help from a GP or counsellor may help some people find their way through to the next part of their life.
Relations with family and friends that have been part of a person or couple’s life can all be shaken too. Grown children may have strong feelings about the situation and are more likely to express their views. For some people considering divorce, it can be hard to put their own needs first but communicating with loved ones is one way to try to make things easier. It can help others understand the reasons why they want to take that step so that they can be supported in their decisions.
Divorce is often life-changing and for those involved, it can bring about considerable changes to personal circumstances - everything from their financial situation and where they live to the network of friends and relations they rely on.
As Emma at Irwin Mitchell advises, anyone getting a divorce should take the time to review any Wills, Power of Attorney or estate planning they have in place as these won’t automatically update. If the divorce is amicable, it might be that a former spouse or extended family members remain included in any arrangements, but in other cases, someone’s wishes regarding who inherits or who would make decisions on their behalf may have changed.
If you are thinking about making a change in your life, whatever you’re planning, it’s a good idea to talk to those involved or affected. Just as seeking early financial and legal advice can help smooth the process of divorce, upfront communication with loved ones about your decisions can help manage expectations, avoid upset and ensure your wishes are respected and fulfilled.
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