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Divorce increases in the over 50s

We are living longer and in the 21st Century, we have jettisoned the idea that you ‘make your bed, you have to lie in it.’ People increasingly feel they are entitled to a second chance and once children have begun to leave home, or elderly parents no longer need to be looked after, people look at their relationships and re-evaluate.  The possibility of new relationships or a new adventure is no longer only the domain of the young. Divorcing at any time of life takes courage and resolve, but the increased statistic of divorcing in your 50s shows that there is life to be had and untying from the old is a very effective way of getting on with the new.

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Divorce Diaries

When you are experiencing overwhelming feelings and can’t think that life will ever change, it is uself to keep a diary or journal of how you feel and what you are doing on a daily basis.   The act of writing things down is often cathartic and importantly when you read back what you have written perhaps a week or two later you see how feelings change so often and so quickly.  It is a really good way of seeing that things aren’t static and do move.  Feeling upset or depressed can make you feel that you have always felt like this and will always feel like this in the future.  This is very common and understandable.  Feeling depressed can feel so all consuming that it is almost impossible to see a way out.  Keeping a diary will help to see that there is a way out, that you won’t always feel like this and life changes.  FLIP have launched a new website called the Divorce Diaries.  I think it is very helpful: 

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A Rallying Cry for Mediation.

As with so many government initiatives, the policy decision to push separating families away from lawyers and into mediation (or at least those who rely on legal aid) has failed spectacularly.  The referral rate to mediation has dropped dramatically since legal aid was withdrawn from most family law cases.  The government apparently failed to realise (despite being told by anyone who knew anything about it) that it was the lawyers who made the referrals!

It is though not all doom and gloom.  For people who can afford professional advice, lawyers are working increasingly constructively and there has been a surge in people seeking out collaborative lawyers to help them through the divorce process.  Hopefully therefore the next generation of divorced adults and their children will not suffer the scars of an acrimonious (and often financially ruinous) divorce. 

But let’s not forget about mediation.  It is remains the only entirely neutral process that provides help and support for adults to reach their own decisions.  Legal information is an integral part of mediation and whilst mediators cannot give tactical advice to either party they do make sure they understand the options and implications of what is discussed.  And don’t think that all mediators are of the ‘knitted cardigan’ variety.  The vast majority are family lawyers who also represent clients in court.  Mediation can also take any forms.  Personally I am seeing an increasing number of people who have struggled to reach an agreement with their lawyers.  Coming to see me is therefore sometimes the last ditch attempt to avoid court.   Often this is a ‘one day’ event (sometimes with lawyers present) and my experience is that it works.

So, my rallying cry is not to forget about mediation simply because the government wants you to do it! 

Post written by David Allison from Family Law in Partnership.


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New Year Resolutions…

Make a resolution for 2015 to find a new life for you.  It may feel right now, like second best or like you don’t know where to start.  One minute in one day is where you start and take one minute or one hour at a time.  By holding onto hostility or endless thoughts about your ex, you are protecting yourself from moving forward or thinking about that scary unplanned for future.  Let go and face forward, there are opportunities for you there and a place and space just for you.  The unfamiliar is always frightening, but as soon as you inhabit it, it becomes familiar and more comfortable. 

Make a resolution that once a month you will look at one bad point in 2014 as your marker.  Then using that marker, you will see how far you have moved and how much better you feel compared to that point.  You are entitled to feel better and to move through this painful process and come out the other side intact.

Although you may feel you are the only one feeling like this, you are not.  The statistics themselves show that one in 3 marriages end in divorce, you are far from alone.  Sometimes, by holding onto the same lifestyle, you are not acknowledging that when we experience different life events, it means sometimes the old way doesn’t fit any more.  Friends or invitations may fall away and life will feel different. That doesn’t mean you should feel on the outside of things just that you could be on the inside of something else, something that fits better. Resolve to be brave enough to find out what that is.

Make 2015 the year you faced an incredible challenge and overcame it.  Let 2014 go and resolve to do all that you need to, to make 2015 better for yourself.

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Can 2015 be a fresh start.

If you have struggled during 2014 to come to terms with your separation, or are starting 2015 newly separated, you may be wondering what the New Year has in store for you.  Is it possible to even think that when one door closes, another may open?  It is often quite important to look at people who you know have been divorced and see how they manage with their lives.  It is rare to find someone who has not been able to build a good life for themselves after separation, once the shock, and the anger has been processed and come to terms with.  When you are in the midst of something really distressing on so many levels, it is hard to imagine that life can ever be different.  Looking at others who have survived and created something good and different for themselves is one way to give you an idea that life can be good again for you too.  

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Silver Splitters.

I am delighted to post this guest blog from Pannone Solicitors on People divorcing in their 60’s:-

A couple that has been married for 20+ years might seem like a strong unit who would be able to weather most things. While this is true the majority of the time, there has been a recent and unexpected incline in the number of over 60’s who are getting divorced. So much so that it has led the Office of National Statistics (ONS) to look further into the trend, producing a short report on the matter.

The report highlights some key figures to give an insight into why an increasing amount of over 60’s now feel that divorce in later life is what they want. In fact, the numbers who are getting a divorce has increased by 73% since 1991. The figure hints towards a shift in the values of marriage. Previous generations saw it as slightly taboo to get a divorce, whereas the ‘baby-boomer’ generation brought along a shift in attitudes not only towards marriage but many different aspects of cultural and political outlooks. This gradual change can be seen to be affecting other end of the age range with an increasing number choosing not to marry in favour of simply ‘cohabiting’ – perhaps causing difficulties financially as discussed in an article by Manchester based solicitor Katy Stirling.

There have been different suggestions as to what might be causing this rise in divorces for the over 60’s. The ONS suggest that an initial contributing factor could be attributed to better life expectancies. In 1991, a 60 year old male would be expected on average to live for another 21 years, whereas in 2010 a 60 year old male could expect to live for another 26 years on average. The ONS point out that this increases the possibility of a marriage ending in divorce as opposed to through death of a spouse.

Further findings from the study show a markable difference in who initiates the divorce in comparison to divorces overall. Only a third of divorce applications were triggered by men in total, yet the male / female divide closes when regarding over 60’s to a largely even split to who initiates the divorce.

Of course there can only be generalisations as to what the factors are contributing towards ‘silver splitting’ as there are differences in each relationship. It should be suspected however that, as values continue to change from more traditional outlooks on marriage, those who are unhappy in theirs will take the ultimate and final step towards separation.   


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Healing through Colour – A guest Post by Karen Haller


 If you are experiencing the sadness of separation or divorce,  colour can help. No matter how you are feeling or want to feel, there will be a colour that expresses that emotion. You may choose to wear colours to stay with that feeling, or colours to support change. You may wish to wear the colour or perhaps a bunch of flowers or something small in that colour is all you need.

 If you feel like hiding away at home on the sofa when it’s feeling all a bit too much, you may choose to wear grey to retreat. You may choose to wear pink to support yourself in a nurturing, loving way, or violet for self-reflection and contemplation.

 Here is a selection of colours showing some of their positive psychological traits, so no matter how you are feeling, you know there is a colour that will help support the outcome you want.


Pink                 – Nurtured, caring and loved

Yellow             – Optimism, self-confidence, self-esteem, uplifting

Green              – Peaceful, relaxed, restorative 

Light Blue        – Calm, reflective, creative thought 

Dark Blue        – Calm, focused, trust, loyalty 

Brown             – Grounding, dependable, reliable

Red                 – Energised, physical courage, strength

Violet               – Self-reflection, spiritual awareness

Orange            – Fun, joy, sensuality 

Black               – emotional safety, creating protective barrier from other

White               – clarity, simplicity, creating distance from others

Grey                – hides the personality, protection from others

Karen Haller is one of the UK’s leading authorities in the field of applied colour psychology. If you would like to know more about her services Karen can be contact on or 020 7727 4938 for a personal colour psychology consultation and bespoke colour chart. She is also available for talks and workshops.



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It’s not just the rain that spoils summer if you’re divorced.

summerWe’re heading for the long summer holidays and if you are separated, it might not feel all that joyous for a multitude of reasons.  Perhaps it’s the first time without your partner or as a family. Perhaps choosing a holiday feels more difficult and more self-conscious.  It may also mean spending time without your children because they are with their other parent.  Summer may feel that it’s happening to others, and not taking you with it.  It’s always strange to break familiar comfortable ways of life or habits.  Even if you get to go on holiday it can feel like a consolation prize rather than what you would like it to be.  However, like anything new it becomes part of how you do things and how you are.  You begin to inhabit it, instead of feeling how strange and odd everything is. Try to reframe the experience, by thinking of it as an adventure, an opportunity to develop, to explore to push your horizons.  Being outside feels lonely, but being inside something of your own creation can feel good. 

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No Stigma, no Pain? Really?

Pain of DivorceAlison Steadman has caused a mini furore in the divorcing world.  Perhaps she has been spending too much time with Penelope Keith (see last blog.) In the Daily Mail , she comments that people are divorcing far too easily, because there is no longer a stigma attached to it. Well, she is promoting her new series on love and marriage so I suppose she is allowed some latitude, but… I have said it before and I will say it again. I have yet to meet anyone either in the support groups or workshops that I run, who has walked out of a marriage or been part of a separation with no more thought than ‘it’s over’.  Most people, including people in their 30’s, leave because they are deeply unhappy over a period of time.  Sadly, there often is only one person who makes that decision leaving the other feeling devastated.  People do, unlike Ms Steadman’s belief try to work on their marriages first, going to couples counselling or bringing in friends or family members to try and help them.  It is true there is no longer a stigma attached to it, thank goodness, but the lack of stigma doesn’t make it one jot less painful to the person experiencing a separation.


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Single dwellings – lifestyle choice or a necessity?

To the Manor born.  I try to hold onto my equilibrium as I read Penelope Keith’s comments in Country Life Magazine on people divorcing in their 50’s and 60’s. Her comments are reproduced in The Daily Mail:   

‘If only we could educate people to go on living together for longer. It’s all these single dwellings, all these women in their 50s and 60s who suddenly want their own space, to be their own people. To do what?’

Ms Keith is bemoaning the fact that in her Surrey village, property prices are out of most people’s reach.  She blames divorcing women.

One can only surmise that Ms Keith, or should we call her Mrs Keith doesn’t live in the real world.  She must think that women in their 50’s and 60’s who find themselves divorced do so in a tra la la fashion, gaily stepping into the shoes of singledom so that they can live in an often smaller home, away from all that they have known for the last 30 odd years.  Perhaps Ms (Sorry, Mrs) Keith thinks that divorce is a joyful thing, something to be relished and looked forward to in later years and that a bi-product of it is to inadvertently push up house prices in an area where I am sure her house is priced beyond the reach of many. 

Well, Ms Keith, if you would care to be a fly on the wall in one of our support groups, or workshops, you would in fact, see fairly quickly, that no-one chooses to be divorced or separated lightly, or without much thought often over many years. Or indeed, often those women that you see living in ‘single dwellings’ as you so lovingly call them, often find themselves separated against their will or choice by a husband who has chosen to look elsewhere.

Think again Ms Keith and perhaps after that you might just have a little empathy and dare I say it – understanding.