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Although it’s hard to get statistics to back it up, anecdotal evidence suggests there is an increase in people seeking separation or divorce in their retirement years. We’ve certainly experienced an increase in enquiries and cases in our family law department.

But what are the factors behind this trend? The fact that many children have now left the nest and may be independent of their parents certainly influences the decision of individuals to “do something for myself”. The empty nest can also highlight existing problems which were overlooked or suppressed in the bustle of family life; a third factor is that being at home together all the time after retirement can highlight an incompatibility which may have existed for years without being addressed.

Whatever the reason, there are 5 main ways in which divorce or separation cases may differ when the couple are in their retirement years:

  1. Less Conflict: Unless there is a dependent child by reason of disability, children are not an issue and so there should be less conflict – deciding the issues around custody and access are generally the most emotive part of separations.
  2. Accommodation: Because the needs of children don’t have to be taken into account, accommodation issues are usually simpler and the financial assets are generally easier to deal with.
  3. Pension: There is a greater need to focus on pension splitting and division of any regular income to ensure financial security for both partners
  4. Health insurance: This issue arises as a common concern, and special provision may need to be made for an individual spouse’s particular health needs
  5. Separation v Divorce: Very often the current generation of retired couples do not wish to pursue a full Divorce, but to seek Separation only. This means that, legally speaking, each partner is still the other’s spouse and careful planning is needed around inheritance provision

If you need advice or support on any of the issues raised above, please call Alan Finnerty on 01 637 6200. Or you can email him at


*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.

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    Orpen Franks Solicitors LLP

    28 & 30 Burlington Road, Dublin 4, Ireland

    Telephone: +353 1 637 6200

    Facsimile: +353 1 637 6262