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HomeHealth7 in ten women (73%) in the UK blame the menopause for...

7 in ten women (73%) in the UK blame the menopause for their divorce

The Family Law Menopause Project and Newson Health Research and Education, the not-for-profit organisation founded by Dr Louise Newson, the renowned menopause expert have released the results of the largest ever nationwide survey of women about their experience of menopause and relationship breakdown. The survey results show that 7 in ten women (73%) in the UK blame the menopause for their divorce.  

The results of the ground-breaking research demonstrate the long-assumed, but never proven, correlation between menopause and relationship breakdown. With the onset of perimenopause in the mid 40’s and average age of menopause at 51, there is clear association with the peak time of divorce between ages 45 and 55 where many women are divorcing at a time when menopause or perimenopause is an issue [1].

The survey of more than 1000 women also explored how menopause is considered within the divorce process itself, and reveals enormous gaps in the awareness and understanding of family lawyers who are supporting couples throughout their divorce. 86% of respondents did not raise the issue of menopause/perimenopause in any of their discussions with their family lawyer. The most common reason for not discussing this with lawyers was not understanding the impact of menopause themselves, closely followed by not thinking that menopause was relevant in any way.

97% of respondents also reported that their family lawyer did not raise the issue of menopause or perimenopause in discussions or ask if it possibly contributed to the breakdown of the relationship. 76% thought that family lawyers and judges need training in respect of menopause and perimenopause symptoms so they know how to sensitively deal with it and factor it into their cases.

The feedback from women who completed the survey mirrors the results of an earlier survey conducted by The Family Law Menopause Project of family lawyers themselves, where 81% family lawyers/judiciary agreeing that they are failing to understand or recognise the impact of menopause and perimenopause during divorce and separation. In the same survey earlier this year, 65% of family lawyers/judiciary agreed that women are potentially disadvantaged in terms of financial settlements by a lack of understanding within family law to recognise or think about the impact menopause and perimenopause might be having on the ability of their female clients to work full-time or even part-time.

While menopause symptoms will vary, 1 in 4 women will experience severe debilitating symptoms while over 60% of women will experience symptoms resulting in behaviour changes. [2]

One respondent commented: “Menopause should be considered a significant factor when women initiate divorce and display irrational and non-characteristic behaviours after years of marriage.”

In the same survey of women, 67% of respondents reported that their menopause or perimenopause symptoms increased domestic abuse and arguments (including gaslighting and financial or coercive control) in their marriage/relationship. One respondent said of her experience: “I have never sought any kind of legal protection from the police as he made sure he left “nonevidence ” and as I am much less able to articulate due to menopause symptoms such as confusion I assumed it was either my fault or I was making a big deal out of nothing”.

One of the aims of The Family Law Menopause Project is to raise awareness of the risk of many divorcing women being left financially disadvantaged as they approach retirement because the impact of menopause and their ability to work is not properly taken into account when financial settlements are drawn up. The survey supports this concern with one respondent said:

Farhana Shahzady (pictured), founder of the Family Law Menopause Project and director at London and South East family law firm Family Law Partners, said: This ground-breaking survey of women confirms the link between menopause and divorce and further highlights the lack of understanding within the family law profession of the impact of perimenopause and menopause. Of deep concern to me is that more than half of the respondents said that perimenopause or menopause had (or will) make it harder for them to save for retirement and/or reduce their ability to save into pensions. This means that women may face real financial hardship as they approach retirement, post-divorce/separation. It is clear that the family law profession, as in wider society, needs to appreciate the reality of menopause and that we must be better equipped to support the many clients who are profoundly affected by menopause”.

Louise Newson, GP, Menopause Specialist and Chair of Newson Health Research and said: Working with The Family Law Menopause Project to create this report is a fantastic opportunity to highlight the correlation between the menopause and relationships. Whilst the physical symptoms of the menopause are well-known and often discussed, the mental health impact is often ignored and can be catastrophic for many women, having a deeply negative effect on their work, relationships, and finances as a result. Our mission is to improve the health outcomes for perimenopausal and menopausal women through further education and research, and this research does just that.’

[1] Statista – https://www.statista.com/statistics/290096/divorce-average-age-at-divorce-in-england-and-wales-by-gender/

2 Nuffied Health (via Menopause Support UK) – https://menopausesupport.co.uk/?page_id=60

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