Getting divorced after 60 – BBC News

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The number of people divorcing in later life has been increasing at a time when divorce rates overall have been falling. What’s behind the phenomenon of the “silver splitters”?

“When I proposed to her, I virtually straight away regretted having done that.”

But the engagement was announced on the front page of his local paper and Peter felt he couldn’t back away. “I was weak-willed at the time, ” he says.

Peter married in 1967. Thirty-six years later, at the age of 64, he did back out.

“I merely bundled what I could into the car and ran. I do recollect her standing on the doorstep. And I did feel sorry – even guilty – then that I was hurting her, really.”

It’s the kind of private moment of pain that’s part of a national tendency.

Divorce among people aged 60 and over in England and Wales has risen since the 1990 s, according to the Office of National Statistics – while among the rest of the population, it has fallen( with a slight rise in 2012 ).

In 2011, virtually 9,500 humen in this age group divorced – an increase of virtually three-quarters compared with 20 years earlier. The trend for women is similar. And it’s not just because there are more older people now.

Image copyright other Image caption Peter and Anne played the piano together

The catalyst for Peter was a relationship he started with his piano partner, Anne. Practising duos for the church choir, they fell in love.

“We are good friends, and that’s something I didn’t have with my first spouse, ” says Anne, who aimed her first wedding when she was in her 50 s. “And we are going to be able laugh when things go wrong.”

Research suggests a big driver of the increase in “silver splitters” is increasing life expectancy.

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