17 March 2024

Supporting your clients through a divorce in later life

More retirees than ever are choosing to separate in later life, with one in four divorces now happening over the age of 501. The end of such a significant chapter is never easy, but the strain of divorce isn’t purely emotional. Divorce can also have a huge impact on financial wellbeing, particularly as clients approach retirement. Financial advisers can play a critical role in helping divorcing couples.

The impact of divorce

Emotional and psychological Financial
Stress and depression Actual legal costs of divorce
Anxiety Protecting the financial position of children or grandchildren
Concerns about wellbeing of children Family home
  Long-term savings and investments
  Pension assets
  Debts and credit worthiness

Encourage your clients to listen to financial advice early

Our research shows that 44% of over-50s consider their divorce to be financially unfair, yet just 12% of people over-50 seek financial advice when going through the process. 17% of over-50’s didn’t discuss any details of their finances throughout the divorce process. However, following the experience, 32% would be more likely to seek out financial advice in the future.

It’s particularly crucial for women to seek financial advice; women will see their annual income fall by as much as twice as men. With 17% of women divorced over 50 who felt their retirement will be negatively impacted as a result. In fact, 21% of women were concerned about meeting the cost of essential bills.

As an industry, it’s important that we help clients understand that the earlier they take advice, the better their outcome is likely to be.

Take a holistic view of financial assets

58% of all divorcing couples look to the family home as the most important asset to consider when splitting their wealth.

Whereas, just 20% of couples consider pensions when dividing assets with their partners2. In fact, 29% actively waive their rights to their partner’s pension, despite the fact that retirees in later life have less time to make up any shortfall in income following a divorce. This is often to the greater detriment of women, who are more likely to have smaller pension pots.

Create an environment of trust and support for clients

Divorce is challenging and can have a significant emotional toll on clients. Advisers may witness clients begin to "burn out" because the experience is often overwhelming. To support clients through such a difficult time, it’s essential that advisers approach the subject of divorce sensitively and empathetically.

More than ever, clients will need clear explanations about the advice process to understand the rationale behind their guidance.

This is particularly pertinent for older people; while many may have more economic resources to help them cope with the challenges resulting from divorce, they also tend to have fewer social resources to support them emotionally and practically3.

Providing an environment of trust and support will mean clients feel more comfortable taking the advice of professionals, which enables advisers to become advocates for their clients' future.

Build relationships with solicitors

Henry Ford said that, “if everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself” – and it’s true that it’s important that advisers build relationships with other professionals to secure best outcomes. Clients of one profession will often require the services of another.

When dealing with divorce, advisers should work together with solicitors to achieve the best for their clients. A great way to establish good working relationships is to talk. Roundtables, seminars, and networking events even virtually are a great way to spark conversations and exchange knowledge. 

An adviser can improve a client’s experience of divorce

Divorce causes an inevitable strain emotionally and financially, but with good financial planning and sensitive advice, an adviser can guide a couple to make the best of the fresh start that awaits them.

Interested in finding out more?

We specialise in helping advisers support their clients to achieve their financial goals in retirement.

If you’re interested in finding out more, our dedicated team would love to hear from you.

Please leave us a message using our contact form and we can arrange a time to talk that’s convenient for you

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Our sources 

1Opinium Research ran a series of online interviews among a nationally representative panel of 2,008 UK adults aged 50+ who are divorced from 19 to 23 September 2020

2Legal & General and Opinium Research conducted 2,750 online interviews of UK adults who are divorced. The research was conducted between 20 and 30 November 2023.

3Gray divorce and mental health in the United Kingdom, Tosi & van den Broek, 2020

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