Tag Archives: seperation

The Silver Splitters – Divorce for the over 50s on the rise…

The Office of National Statistics figures released in July 2015 show that the greatest rise in the percentage of people getting divorced in 2014 are couples aged 50 to 64.

This trend in older people divorcing is not new.


By 2013 the number of over 60s divorcing had reportedly increased by over a third in the last decade. Dramatic changes in life expectancy have led many couples to reconsider whether they really want to grow old together. Today’s over 50s are fit and active and no longer feel that there is such a stigma attached to divorce. Marriages are more likely to end in divorce and less likely to end in the death of one spouse than they were in 1991. And as you head towards retirement it can trigger a reappraisal of how you want to spend your later years.

Some suggest that the older generation have become more aware that they can split from their current partners after the children leave, and still meet new partners. They can go on to lead more fulfilling lives, rather than staying in less than satisfactory relationships.

Others suggest that, once the children leave, couples discover that they have less in common than they thought they did.

Plus, women are often more financially independent than before and may feel more confident to make the break.

In general divorce can be simpler and cheaper when child maintenance is no longer in the picture.

Conversely, “Silver Splitters” may have more to argue over, where they have benefitted from rising house prices and where they may have generated a significant amount of equity in the house over a number of years and have at least one hefty pension to consider.

Changes in the law which allow pension funds to be shared may also have had an impact on the over 50s divorce figures. With the latest developments following on from this year’s budget, the over 55s now have some freedom to cash in their pension pots; no surprise that they are taking hold of this new found freedom to make the break.

However any split or equalization has to be handled with care because comparing different types of pensions with differing contributions and different rights is like comparing apples with pears.

At Focus Mediation our mediators who work with the financial aspects of divorce are all lawyer mediators. Our lead mediator and Managing Director, Mary Banham-Hall, has an advanced qualification in pensions and trains the team to mediate this minefield to best effect.

By coming to mediation, we can help you to work through where you are and where you want to get to as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, focusing on your priorities and what you need to move on and live separately.

Control, Leverage and Letting Go of Relationships

As mediator I see hundreds of couples at the point where they are negotiating their arrangements for separation and divorce. It is fascinating. Many of them say they ‘Just want what is fair’ and that ‘They just want to sort it all out as quickly as possible’. They may well then embark on behaviour and an approach to negotiations that will ensure exactly the opposite happens, it does not get sorted quickly and what they want is what the want and it may not be fair. They bring their couple boundaries into mediation where they have to be managed by me as the mediator to achieve a fair negotiating balance between the parties to mediation. So the so-called controller will have to let go of his or her influence over their ex partner and they will find this very hard. As mediation progresses it often becomes clear that the couple will never agree what is fair because this is an opinion seen through the lens of their self interest. It is possible to argue endlessly about fairness and people often feel very strongly about certain things, even when in law these things may make no difference at all. In most cases the main question is ‘How can these assets provide for you both and any children? What is practical?’ On divorce there is no forensic accounting and handing back of contributions made 20 years ago and the partner who has worked in the home childrearing and housekeeping is treated equally to the partner who has earned the income on which the family has lived.


Controllers may seek to use their historic influence in negotiating their settlement in mediation. An effective mediator helps the couple to re-define their couple boundaries, especially the ones relating to influence and control and re-balance the two people on a consciously more equal footing, something both necessary and extremely uncomfortable. An example may help:

Towards the end of the mediation when the issues have almost been resolved, one party may hesitate, and delay booking the final session. They may raise additional issues and appear to start new or old arguments, running the risk the mediation will collapse and court will be the only option, this holding the couple stuck in their existing boundaries for longer with historic levels of control and influence. What are they afraid of? They may be unconsciously afraid of losing control or influence of their nearly ex partner.

My heart always sinks if I hear someone worrying about ‘Leverage’. That is not a good word, it imports a world of meaning associated with the exploitation of a dominant negotiating position to exercise non consensual control. The controller will fear loss of control mightily and will seek to retain it. They may well also complain bitterly about lack of communication with the controlled or leveraged person. They will not understand the connection between the leverage they are accustomed to exercising and their poor communication with their victim. As I said to one divorcing man recently, as he twitched nervously about his loss of financial leverage on settling his finances with his ex wife, ‘Have you ever thought if you didn’t have any leverage over her, your relationship with her might improve and with it your ability to communicate over your children?’ He looked at me with real fear and lack of comprehension, so I held his eyes and said ‘Just think about it!’

Free Easter Activities: Easter on a shoe-string for separating parents

The Easter Holidays are here and many single parents will be trying to work out how to keep their children entertained without it costing the Earth.

At Focus Mediation we are aware of the implications of separation on parents: there is often a desire to make time with your children special and when one household is split into two, this is also the time when you are feeling the pinch financially.

Although the cost of living in London is high, we are also lucky to have a wealth of free events laid on for us. Here are a few offerings which might keep your little ones amused and won’t break the bank! Let us have you feedback on Facebook or Twitter if you go to any good free events so we can pass on your thoughts and recommendations to single parents.

1       The Passion of Jesus- with horses, donkeys and doves!


Wintershall Players are in charge of this piece of theatre with a cast of over 100 which promises to be an amazing specatacle. The performances are on 3rd April at Trafalgar Square at midday and 3.15 pm- see http://www.passionofjesus-trafalgar.co.uk/ for map and details.

2       EGGstraordinary Fun!

From 30 March – 2 April & 7 – 10 April the Bank of England are running free activities for children including an Easter Egg Hunt

“ Children can follow the treasure trail around the museum to hunt for the hidden chicks and egg. There is a chocolate egg for every child who takes part. Children can then express their creativity by decorating an Easter finger puppet to take home. “

See http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/education/Pages/museum/exhibitions/eggstraordinaryfun.aspx for more information about other things taking place such as the “discover Gold” exhibition. It all sounds both tasty and informative.

3 Selfridges Easter Egg Hunt


From 10 am on 2nd,3rd and 4th April. Chocolate goodies are to be found across the 4th floor for those who are looking! Somewhat dangerously located in and around kids toys so be prepared for some window shopping too

4 Easter egg hunt at Gabriel’s Wharf

The organiser’s say: “Come along this Easter Saturday and hunt down delicious chocolate eggs hidden in and around the designer craft shops at Gabriel’s Wharf.”

Date: 4 April 2015

Time: 11:00am – 6:00pm

Venue: Gabriel’s Wharf

Price: Free

Should I book? No

Age Range: All ages

See http://coinstreet.org/events/ for other events on in this area including a mass-sculptural performance at Oxo Tower Wharf perhaps suited more to older children.

 5       Ellie Castle’s Easter Hunt-


This is an interactive performance for 5-10 year olds taking place at the Artworks at Elephant and Castle. The audience help Ellie to find out why the weather has changed in remarkable ways: the sun starts singing, the clouds have gone away and the rain has turned to chocolate!

The event is happening at Art Works Elephant which is a new creative hub working out of shipping containers in Elephant and Castle. Performances take place across the day at 10am, 11am, 12pm, 2pm and 3pm and last around 40 minutes- an interesting diversion!

And one more.. for the Under 5’s, the Museum of London Docklands has the Mudlark’s Children’s

Gallery where they learn to explore with soft play and moving models. Entry is FREE but you will need to collect a timed ticket from the main desk on arrival. The gallery is open to the public all day during school holidays and at weekends – See more at: http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/visiting-us/visits-families/under-5s/#sthash.ushY5H0D.dpuf

The Museum also has storytelling, workshops and a host of free family events- check this link for details: http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/whats-on/family-events/holidays/

Finally netmums.com have a great “Free places to go in Greater London” link : http://www.netmums.com/activities/free-family-fun/best-free-places-to-go-greater-london-region

And another good one: “101 ideas for free family fun”


Wishing you a very happy Easter.

Focus Mediation


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