Dealing with menopause and divorce

30th June 2022

Women dealing with menopause and divorce at the same time can be at risk of detrimental financial outcomes.

Until fairly recently, notwithstanding around half the population will go through it, the menopause was rarely mentioned other than perhaps between close female friends and family. Quite rightly, a huge increase in information and awareness has changed this. For example, most companies now run regular seminars and workshops providing information about the physical, psychological and cognitive menopause symptoms to all their employees, regardless of age or gender, which can provide vital support in the workplace.

Menopause symptoms can make divorce more difficult

ONS statistics (Divorce in England and Wales: 2020) suggest that in the order of 60% of all divorce petitions are started by women and that 40% of those petitions are initiated by women aged 45-55, who are likely to be going through the menopause. So, as though this time may not already be difficult enough, there unfortunately seems to be a clear relationship between menopause and divorce.

Quite aside from the emotional difficulties arising from relationship breakdown, divorce & dissolution related financial matters are complex, generally requiring the people involved to provide lots of financial documentation and sometimes to recall fairly historical matters. On top of that, people may need to absorb, process and understand relatively complicated legal advice. This can be time consuming and confusing at the best of times, but could be all the more difficult against a backdrop of menopause symptoms such as reduced concentration, attention to detail and brain fog.

Clear family law advice is consequently all the more important than ever when dealing with menopause and divorce. It’s also crucial that an appropriate and supportive approach, such as Collaborative Law, is used to give everyone the best opportunity of reaching a fair outcome.

Menopause can contribute to adverse financial outcomes

Once the foundation of financial information is in place, negotiations follow. Menopause symptoms, such as anxiety and stress, and lack of confidence, could all contribute to women agreeing potentially detrimental financial terms. For example, yearning for the legal process to be concluded very quickly, and/or absorbing a former partner’s assertions about what they consider fair, could lead to women accepting less than their true entitlement. We particularly see this in relation to pensions.

Financial outcomes tend to be set in stone

This process cannot, generally, be revisited. Once agreed, outcomes tend to be final and binding, so it’s incredibly important that, depending upon the available assets, the outcome is sufficient to meet housing and income needs now and for the future.

Again, strong legal support combined with independent financial advice, is vital.

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