The firm highlights that, while broken marriages used to be traditionally dominated by younger couples who had spent a relatively short time together, many break-ups and divorces are now being driven by older couples after decades of marriage. And, as the majority of these separating couples usually have grown-up children who have flown the nest, their divorce settlements typically include negotiations over issues such as pensions and savings to ensure they are financially set for life as old age singletons. Fiona Rasmusen, partner and family law specialist at Gibson Kerr, said: “We’ve seen a significant change in the past decade where growing numbers of older people are choosing to get divorced in Scotland. In generations gone by, many people would get to pensionable age and not want the hassle of going through a divorce in their advanced years – but these days it is far more socially acceptable to separate and divorce in your 60s and above. ”
However, as a result of this change, we have seen a shift in the issues that people are focussing on when it comes to their divorce. Younger couples tend to be more focussed on issues such as children and the money that they have invested in their property – as they haven’t had time to keep any savings or start a pension – but older people tend to have far more mutually accumulated wealth or assets. “In many of these cases, aside from the marital home itself, the biggest issue for older couples is their pension. Although one partner will usually be the one who has saved the majority of the money in a pension fund, their spouse can be entitled to half of it if they divorce – and in some instances this can run into hundreds of thousands, or occasionally, millions, of pounds.” Fiona adds that agreeing a settlement over pensions can be a problematic issue when it comes to divorce, as there are many legal and financial questions to consider with regard to splitting the pension pot. She adds: “Although divorcing couples often just want to split the money and go their separate ways as soon as possible, there are a number of other important issues that need to be considered. “Partners need to consider whether to offset or share their pension pot after divorce, and whether they should buy an annuity or leave the fund invested and split the income from it. It’s a highly complicated issue that requires proper, expert legal and independent financial advice, as the sums of money involved can be very high.
“It’s important in these situations for anyone who is separating from their partner to get advice from their solicitor and also from an independent financial advisor before they agree to any settlement. By doing this, you will be able to review all of the options open to you during what is a very stressful and emotional time – and decide what the best course of action is to take.”
Gibson Kerr is a family-run law firm that has been established in Edinburgh for more than 100 years. It has an excellent reputation for providing a comprehensive service encompassing both property and personal law, including family law issues such as divorce, powers of attorney, executries and wills. More information and legal advice can be found on the website www.gibsonkerr.co.uk.