Divorce among the over-50s has soared by 19 per cent to 23,000 a year since 1998, official figures show. The overall UK divorce rate fell 16 per cent to 130,000 a year.
“Suddenly singles”, widows and those entering their 50s and 60s not in a relationship make up the particularly high number of Swofties – Single Women Over Fifty – according to researchers.
A Department for Work and Pensions study said: “Women in this age group wave goodbye to their children, are suddenly alone with their partner and realise that they want something else from life.”
But one downside, says the Department, is that many older women suddenly have to deal with the financial affairs and paperwork that their husbands traditionally managed.
Researchers found that 14 per cent of women over 50 take on a new job when they split from a partner and 13 per cent deal with money issues they have never tackled before. Sixteen per cent have never completed a tax return and 19 per cent have not opened a bank account.
Three in 10 find themselves paying the household bills for the first time in their lives after divorcing in their 50s and beyond.