A growing number of over 65s are filing for divorce

A greater proportion of pensioners are choosing to part ways according to new research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Nine per cent of over 65s had divorced in 2011, more than double the number of a decade earlier.

“Marriage remained the most common marital status – 57 per cent of those aged over 65 were married,” said the ONS report.

“However there has been a near-doubling of cohabitation among the over-65s, from 1.6 per cent in 2001 to 2.8 per cent in 2011.”

Several reasons have been given for why the divorce rate is creeping up among the baby boomer generation.

One contributing factor may be that people are, on average, living longer and enjoying better health in their 60s and 70s, meaning they’re more interested in forming new relationships.

There is also the fact that a growing number of women are reaching retirement age with a good income, so they are not financially reliant on their husband in the way their mothers and grandmothers would have been.

Others believe the most obvious explanation is that couples are increasingly marrying later in life, which will inevitably push up the age that relationships start to break down.

The average age of a bridegroom is now 36 and a bride 34, eight years older than in 1972.

Harry Benson, from the Marriage Foundation think tank, said: “The silver divorce phenomenon is real in terms of numbers but the idea that divorce is booming among older people is an illusion.”