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Research for women divorcing midlife

Table of Contents

Suzi Godson is researching divorce with Birkbeck Univesity.

Divorce is a horrid experience at any stage of life, but divorcing in mid-life can be even more difficult. This is especially true for women, who are often simultaneously managing biological chaos, ageing parents and teenage children, whilst at the same time trying to resurrect a career which is ‘slightly-quieter than-one-had-expected’. These challenges can pile up and then either undermine a woman’s confidence and put her under pressure, the transition is never an easy one.

Divorce is arrived up after a lot of deliberation, especially after a lengthy marriage. A US study uncovered that 37% of middle-aged female divorcees had deliberated for 5 years or more before finally taking the plunge and deciding to separate/divorce. And although the overall divorce rate has plateaued at around 42%, in mid-age, the chance of divorce are higher. In 2013, around 60,400 people over 50 got divorced in England and Wales, and in the period of 1991-2011 there has been a 73% increase divorces in men over 60.  The mean length of these marriages was a significant 27 years!

Although we gender equality is improving, divorce is still very hard on women who continue to be perceived as ‘carers’ while men are the ‘providers’. This can be advantageous for women with younger children, as they have a better chance of being awarded custody. In 91.2% of single-parent families, the head of family is the mother. However, in midlife, custodial issues are rarely an issue and it is the husband’s duty to provide for grown up children.

Because women who divorce in midlife are poorly informed about the legal process, they assume that their partner has an on-going financial responsibility to look after them. In fact, this is no longer the case and it can take months and even years to negotiate a financial settlement.

Suzi Godson is looking to conduct a study which looks at how women with an empty nest make think and feel about midlife marital divorce. She also intends to explore if and how using lawyers, or mediation, makes a difference to process or final outcome.

Suzi is currently recruiting women to take part in her study.  If you think you might want to take part, and would be a suitable candidate, email: divorceresearch@yahoo.co.uk.

She is recruiting:

  • women who are aged 50-65,
  • who have children over the age of 18 ,
  • and who have already applied for, or received Decree Nisi, but who do not yet have Decree Absolute.

If you are suitable, Suzi will need to meet with you on 2 occasions; once now and then a year later.  Everything you say will be anonymised so that no one will know you took part in this research. The study has ethical approval from Birkbeck University and her supervisor is Jonathan A. Smith.

To join the study, send an email to divorceresearch@yahoo.co.uk, or type fill in the short questionnaire:


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