A growing number of middle aged couples are trapped in a perfect storm of challenges which are highlighting cracks in their relationships.
A combination of factors, including, responsibilities for children, concerns over elderly relatives and fear of running out of time to enjoy life, have come together to create an increasingly unhappy generation.
The result is a spike in the number of people in their 40s and upwards seeking legal advice on how to change and move forward in their lives, ensuring protection of their future.
According to Lindsey Canning of Wake Smith Solicitors, Sheffield, the modern generation of middle-aged couples are subjected to a string of problems which their own parents did not have to cope with.
“Those born between 1965 and 1984 – known as Generation X – are experiencing pressures from a number of directions,” she said.
“They have busier and more pressured lives than their parents, often having children later in life or still have financially dependent adult children at home, while at the same time having elderly parents to financially support and look after”
“They are also at a stage in their lives when they are considering their own mortality, if they are going to make a change to their present situation, they have to do it soon.
“They are considering their own relationships, if they married young, couples often find as they mature, they want different things from life, realising they have less in common than they once did. This is further amplified once children leave home they have to look to one another to fill the void. It’s no-one’s fault, it’s just life. Some couples can overcome those differences, but others find it harder to accept.”
As a couple mature, there is more financial dependence on the other. This can heighten financial concerns regarding pension provision, savings or inheritance from elderly relatives. When a couple decide to go their separate ways there is a concern as to how they can fairly share their marital assets while ensuring each party has a financially sound future.
“There is a growing concern from those considering separation that the court could take into consideration any future inheritance from elderly relatives as part of the matrimonial pot,” said Ms Canning, who has more than 25 years of experience in family law.
“There is concern that future inheritance from one side of the family will be shared with their spouse who they no longer have a strong connection with, or that their children might lose out, if their spouse remarries.”
Second time around
Another recurring issue involves couples moving on to their second marriage later in life, she added.
“Those considering remarriage want to ensure those assets preserved from their previous divorce are protected, particularly if there are children from a previous relationship,” she adds.
As a result the Sheffield firm is encountering more demand from couples seeking both pre and post-nuptial agreements.
“These agreements can help ring fence and protect those assets each party brought to the relationship for themselves or for their children,” added Lindsey.
Talk it through
The worst thing couples can do is let a troubled and unsettled situation drift.
“It’s more difficult to put things right the longer they go on,” added Lindsey.
“If people are in an unhappy relationship for whatever reason, then I’d urge anyone to talk to a solicitor who understands the legal complexities sooner rather later when it might be too late. Speaking to an expert can often put an individual’s mind at rest and can encourage them to look towards their own future instead of feeling trapped in their current situation.
“Similarly, elderly parents can often feel concerned about their child inheriting their assets while that child is in a strained relationship; they too should take advice as soon as possible, so that the proper arrangements can be put in place.”
Need to talk? Whatever challenges there may be affecting your relationship, find out where your legal rights are by talking to Wake Smith Solicitors. Visit www.wake-smith.co.uk for more details.