While close to ninety percent of people in western cultures marry by the age of 50, almost half of those marriages will result in divorce.
The toll can be devastating for everyone involved. Many people don’t realize the hidden cost of divorce until they are facing one and completely overwhelmed emotionally and financially.
How much does it cost to get a divorce?
What are divorce expenses no one thinks about?
How can you keep from being overwhelmed by the hidden cost of divorce?
Keep reading for the tips you need to get through even the most difficult relationship breakdown or other expensive life change.
Emotional Cost of Divorce
A divorce takes a toll on more than just the pocketbook. Everything in life can be thrown into turmoil by a family breakdown. Many of the emotional stresses of divorce are expected but people are often overwhelmed by the difficult life changes they hadn’t considered.
Outside Your Comfort Zone
People in a relationship usually share the financial, physical and emotional responsibilities of everyday life. When the relationship ends so does that help with other aspects of life.
You may now be responsible for paying bills and doing tasks that are outside your comfort zone. This can cause stress and put demands on your time and energy that leave you feeling drained.
Family and Friend Dynamics
The breakdown of one relationship can have a ripple effect on every other relationship in your life as well.
Children may now share time between two homes. You are trying to provide love and support to your children who may be emotionally distraught or even angry about the breakdown of the family.
Extended family and close friends may no longer be a part of your life due to circumstances.
Even if you’re glad to be ending the marriage, it’s common to mourn the loss of the relationship and the life you had planned.
This can take an emotional toll and leave many feeling lonely, anxious, resentful or depressed.
Sleep and Ability to Concentrate
A divorce can leave you preoccupied and tossing and turning for a number of reasons.
Some find it difficult to sleep because they’re used to having their ex next to them. For others, worrying about the uncertainty of the future can lead to many sleepless nights.
This lack of sleep can make it even more difficult to concentrate and cause problems in other areas of life. Work, home, health, and one’s ability to cope effectively all end up suffering when someone is sleep deprived.
Physical and Mental Cost of Divorce
Stress kills. A divorce can be one of the most stressful situations in life. In fact, it can end up causing several of the top stressors and lead to serious health concerns.
Some of the top contributing negative stress factors of divorce:
- Divorce or breakdown of a relationship
- Loss of family and friends
- Financial difficulties
- Impending legal issues
- Lack of sleep
- Moving or changes in living arrangements
- Children having difficulties
Each of these factors is stress inducing on their own but with a divorce, you’re facing several significant challenges at the same time. This can compound the risk factors for physical and mental health issues caused by stress.
Increased Physical Stress
Stress from the financial and emotional cost of divorce can increase one’s risk of conditions such as:
- Alzheimer’s and Dementia
- Some Cancers
- Headaches (migraine and other)
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Digestive and Gastrointestinal issues
- Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders
Stress can cut anywhere from nine to twenty years from your life even if one of these stress-induced conditions don’t.
All of these conditions lead to further stress because of the financial and physical effects of coping with them.
It can become a vicious circle of stress leading to health issues causing more stress which worsens your mental and physical health further. Starting an emotional and financial spiral that is difficult to recover from.
Financial Cost of Divorce
Obviously not every divorce is going to cost the same when all is said and done. Some couples handle the logistics of their divorce in a mature and relatively quick manner with provisions made so no one is unfairly burdened by debt.
No divorce is cost-free but the administration and execution of the legal aspects can be reduced by both parties being willing to maturely and fairly deal with the situation.
In some cases, individuals will be vicious. Doing everything they can to make it the most expensive divorce possible for the other party, causing them to have to take out large installment loans just to pay for it.
Lawyers are invaluable when facing a difficult legal situation such as a divorce or custody battle. That’s why they can charge the big bucks. People need an expert to tell them the ins and outs of the process and end up paying dearly for that knowledge.
Many are surprised at how quickly the administration and legal expenses can mount. Each piece of paper that’s photocopied or word that’s chicken scratched on a legal pad is added to the bill. Not only the cost of the paper but a handsome “labor” fee for the person that did it.
Tens of thousands of dollars can be spent before you even get to court and then there’s the fee for them showing up and presenting the case which you’ll have to pay before it ever gets that far.
The most amicable of divorces can cost between $10,000 and $20,000 just to finalize the legal aspects of it.
Double Expenses, Half Income
Even if you do receive financial compensation after the divorce, you need to survive until that happens and it still won’t make up for being responsible for all the household bills, repairs, and expenses.
One of you will have moving expenses while the other may have to pay hefty deposits when changing utilities, insurance, and other bills into their name. They may need to apply for credit cards or a line of credit for the first time.
Many couples find their credit take a major hit by the time the divorce is final. Other individuals never had credit in their name and need to build credit now that they don’t have their partner’s credit rating for major purchases.
Employment Cost of Divorce
Appointments with lawyers, appearances in court, added responsibilities and stress can all take away from time at work. Even if you do clock in, you may not be as productive as you normally would be.
People often forget to factor in the loss of income associated with going through a divorce.
The majority of people are living paycheck to paycheck and now there’s only one income because of the divorce. Any changes in hours or pay can have a huge impact on your ability to stay financially afloat and cover any household expenses that may arise whether expected or an emergency expense.
Children need extra attention and support during a family breakdown and that can have an impact on your ability to earn money. You may have parenting responsibilities that take you away from employment or have added child care expenses when children are in your care and you need to work.
The Cost of a Fresh Start
Everyone knows there will be legal and court costs to divorce but many don’t think of all the expenses related to making a fresh start during and after the fact.
You will both need a place to live. This doesn’t just require more monthly expenses but may also include:
- Moving day expenses
- First and last or a down payment
- Transportation costs
- Childcare costs
- Restocking House
When everything is divided between the two parties you may need to invest in household items such as:
- Dishes and cutlery
- Pots, pans, utensils
- Lighting, shelves
- Children’s toys and furniture
You may need to buy things like car seats, clothing, electronic equipment and devices that your ex takes.
Name and Address Changes
Now that you’re making a fresh start you may have some paperwork that needs tending to. Name and address changes on your identification, forwarding mail, changing terms of financial and legal documents like last wills and testaments may be necessary.
Each of these changes will add to the hidden costs of divorce and can range from a few dollars to thousands if dealing with extensive changes. If all the assets were in both names or just in your partner’s you may not have access to them or have to apply for a credit card for the first time in your own name.
You may also find money and assets are tied up or untouchable until everything is sorted out through the courts. This may leave you scrounging for resources to cover the cost of living while you wait for it to be resolved.
You may find yourself having to dole out larger payments for new insurance policies now that your life circumstances have changed. People often forget about the increased cost of insurance for:
- House or apartment
- Health and dental
- Life and disability
Coverage rates may change because of new circumstances or perhaps you’ve been covered by your ex’s employment health insurance policy and for the first time in years, you’re trying to find a personal or family healthcare plan you can afford.
Insurance policies may also change the deductible you are responsible for meaning there are more out of pocket expenses both in the short and long term.
Recreation and Relaxation
So you’re single now and want to be able to enjoy that new found freedom. Whether you’re starting to date again or decide to see a therapist before you rebound, it costs money to move on.
Most people take time to find themselves again after a long term relationship. This may mean taking up a hobby like golfing or you might decide to head back to school to further your education.
It doesn’t matter what you decide to do for relaxation or recreation, it’s more than likely going to have some cost attached.
You can’t paint a masterpiece without the canvas and paints to create it, or shoot the perfect game without a set of clubs and paying greens fees.
Nest Eggs, Retirement, and Taxes
The future you were building has now totally changed and so has your financial security. Any retirement plans, savings accounts, and nest eggs will more than likely be cut in half if not dwindled down more by the increased expenses of separate lives.
The change in marital status may have a huge effect on what you owe in taxes. If there are back taxes owed you could get stuck holding the bag. The IRS doesn’t care who they get the money from as long as someone is responsible and pays it so they’ll come after anyone they possibly can.
The Bottom Line
Even the friendliest of separations has unavoidable expenses and costs associated with it. Those expenses can quickly add up and seem like an insurmountable and overwhelming challenge.
Those costs are compounded when you add children or a complicated and emotionally charged legal battle over custody or finances. You may find yourself needing anywhere from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars before it’s all over.
The breakdown of the relationship can leave you facing a financial crisis at the same time as you’re left with bad or no credit. This financial and emotional stress can negatively affect your health, happiness, relationships, and life in ways you never considered.
No matter what the situation or how overwhelmed you feel there are always options available to help relieve the financial burden and stress of divorce.
Help Is Available
The cost of divorce goes far beyond a dollar amount. Everyone involved is changed and so is their financial situation.
There is always help available for those struggling to cope with the cost of divorce or any other major life event.
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