Research shows that the divorce rate among people over 50 in the UK has doubled in the UK since 1990, with experts expecting this to triple by 2030.
Whatever your circumstances, going through a divorce can be incredibly difficult, and it’s natural to feel overwhelmed by the process.
This can be particularly true for couples divorcing later in life who’ve laid down deep roots – including children, a home, and an entire network of loved ones. There can also be more complex financial issues that need to be considered.
However, while divorce will inevitably cause a certain amount of disruption and change, there are still things you can do to help make the process as amicable as possible. We’ll cover some of these below.
1. Try to avoid rushing your partner through the process
If you want to divorce amicably, one of the most important things you can do is avoid rushing your partner through the process.
As with any major life change, divorce is a journey of emotions and it’s unlikely that you and your partner will always be on the same page.
Whoever initiated the divorce has probably had more time to get used to the idea of separating and may already be considering solutions and alternatives. Meanwhile, the other may still be working through the acceptance stage and feel emotionally vulnerable. Even in cases where the decision to divorce is mutual, it’s still unlikely that you’ll both be in the same place all the time.
Emotions like shock, anger, and denial can all get in the way of an amicable divorce and make it difficult to reach agreements. Ultimately, the more you rush the other person, the slower the process is likely to be, so try your best to be understanding.
Where necessary, some couples also find professional services like coaching and counselling to be useful – together and/or as individuals – to help both parties through the grieving and moving on process.
2. Avoid playing the blame game
Divorce is naturally an emotional process. But if you want to get through it as amicably and swiftly as possible, it’s best to avoid playing the blame game. Instead, try to approach divorce as a shared problem, rather than someone’s fault.
The type of language used can also have a powerful impact on the atmosphere of a divorce in later life. For example, instead of seeing your marriage as a failure, consider reframing it as something that’s simply run its course. This can help both partners to look towards the future more positively.
In the same way, if you have children together, try to think about how you can approach family situations not as exes, but as co-parents instead.
Often, these steps can make all the difference to how amicable a divorce process is. Though, we do understand that this approach isn’t possible in all situations.
3. Work out how to divide your finances amicably
If you decide to separate or divorce, you’ll need to reach an agreement with your partner on how to divide your finances. This includes everything from money and debt to property and pensions.
There are a number of ways you can reach an agreement, and each has its own pros and cons. For example, some couples come to an agreement without professional help – a method known as a kitchen table agreement. Though, while cost-effective, this option isn’t legally binding.
Other options include mediation, negotiation specialists, and solicitors. If you’re unable to reach an agreement, you can go to court where a Judge will decide for you. However, as the most expensive and typically unharmonious option, this should ideally only be used as a last resort.
You can find out more about common ways to reach an agreement on how to divide finances during a divorce on Amicable’s website. Alternatively, if you and your partner would like to figure out how to separate your finances but aren’t yet ready for divorce, our article on separation agreements is worth a read.
The divorce and separation section of our website also has specific guidance on a range of topics related to separating your finances during divorce – from how to navigate joint bank accounts, to final salary pensions and spousal maintenance.
4. Consider what you’ll do with your property
If you and your partner own a home together, there are a few options for you to consider when separating.
Many couples find that they need to sell their property and downsize into two separate homes, due to affordability. You can find out more about how to go about this in our article; Buying a property after divorce. In this case, it’s also important to factor in the additional legal costs and estate agent fees that you’ll need to cover, as well as any mortgage early repayment charges.
Alternatively, if you still have dependents living at home or one partner is able to buy the other out, it may be the case that one of you remains there.
That being said, one person staying might not be a straightforward process, as it isn’t always possible to simply transfer ownership of a property from joint names to one name. This is because the mortgage lender will require evidence that the person remaining in the property is able to afford the mortgage repayments on their own.
You can find out more about mortgage options and how they can vary with age in our articles; Mortgages for over 50s and Mortgages for over 60s.
Alternatively, you can seek expert advice from a Rest Less mortgage advisor.
And for more information on the options available when it comes to handling the family home during divorce, have a read of our article; Splitting the family home and mortgage during divorce, dissolution, or separation.
5. Take a considerate and practical approach to dividing possessions
Aside from property and finances, arguably one of the trickiest and most emotional parts of divorce is deciding who’ll keep any possessions that you and your partner own jointly.
Whether furniture, cars, pets, books, or other items that you both treasure, these possessions often hold a lot of memories and sentimental value. Therefore, wherever possible, it’s worth approaching any discussions around how you’ll divide them with as much grace and understanding as you can.
Some couples find it particularly useful to take a practical approach to dividing their shared possessions. You could each make lists of top-priority items or take time to discuss what makes the most practical sense.
For example, in the case of furniture, consider where you’ll both be living once you’ve separated. If one of you will be moving into an unfurnished property, it’s possible that they might benefit from furniture items more.
You can find further tips and advice on how to take an amicable approach splitting your possessions in our article; How to divide your things when you divorce or separate.
From having to divide shared property and possessions, to being patient with each other’s emotions – divorce is never an easy process. However, there are some things you can do to help make separating from your partner as amicable as possible.
For further information and advice, head over to the divorce and separation section of our website. Alternatively, if you’d like some emotional support, Relate is a relationship counselling service that handles marriage and relationship breakdown as well as support for couples wanting to stay together.
Or, for help finding meaning, purpose, and belonging after divorce, you might like to have a read of our articles; How to thrive through change, 6 ways to find a sense of belonging, and 5 ways to find meaning and purpose in your life.