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  • Over-55s women are the only age group seeing divorce rates increase
  • Equity release market set to break £2 billion a year for the first time   

Female silver splitters are helping drive the equity release market as divorcing couples use property wealth to help one partner remain in the family home, Bower Retirement analysis shows.

The national specialist adviser is seeing increased applications from divorcing couples with rising numbers of women using equity release to help split finances.

Government data* shows the number of divorces and the divorce rate has dropped nearly 30% since the peak in 2004 to around 111,169 divorces a year. Around 27% of divorces in 2014 – 30,650 were among couples couples aged 55-plus.

However the only age group to record an increase in the divorce rate was women aged 55-plus and that is being reflected in equity release inquiries and sales, Bower says. Bower’s research** among advisers shows around 21% of equity release customers have struggled to be accepted for mainstream mortgages.

Analysts say the rise in divorce among over-55s women is partially driven by increased financial independence among women who are now more able to support themselves following divorce. Other reasons for the rise in divorce include increased longevity.

Andrea Rozario, Chief Corporate Officer at Bower Retirement said: “Rising numbers of customers are increasingly women looking to use property wealth to stay in the family home as many will struggle to raise money for deposits for new houses.

“Equity release can help divorcees split an estate without having to lose the family home entirely while enabling the other partner fund a deposit for a new home.

“Indeed, while there have been developments in the mainstream mortgage market allowing older borrowers more flexibility, it is still problematic for the older generation facing divorce to secure mortgages.”

Bower Retirement is focusing on increased use of technology and service for customers and partners as it focuses on continued growth and recruitment of advisers.

The firm, founded in 2006 as an equity release specialist, has enhanced its service for the growing retirement planning market with the launch of new online tools. New services include video guides for customers and potential new recruits as well as online chat services for customers and a focus on ensuring customers are offered as wide a range of solutions as possible. Videos are hosted on YouTube