Childcare, shopping and holidays ramp up divorce costs

According to research commissioned by insurers Aviva, the average couple who get divorced are hit by a total bill of around £44,000, a cost which has increased nearly two-thirds in just eight years.

Such a large figure makes for good media headlines, which are misleading as they imply that the legal costs run into five figures. However, further into the article the report reveals that the cost of divorce includes a whole raft of other expenses resulting from the breakdown of a marriage.

Setting up a new home and buying a new car are included in the total, while a common extra cost is childcare if a mother has to return to work or take a second job – this can typically be around £4,300 a year.

In fact one in eight women said they ‘worked longer hours or took a second job’ following a separation and one in 10, who previously hadn’t worked, had to find a job.

Not all the additional expenses are essential – some people feel the need for a treat to lift their spirits. While some splashed out on average £1,500 on clothes and jewellery, one in eight spent nearly £2,000 on a holiday to ‘celebrate their newly-single status’.

The research was based on interviews with 616 adults who have been married or co-habited with a partner within the last 10 years, but subsequently split up.

Any statistics can be misleading and what the article doesn’t do is to break down the £44,000 bill to identify a ‘typical’ cost of legal fees for divorce. Besides, averages are always difficult to rely on – if one person in the room has a bill of £100k, and 10 others have bills of £5k, the total in the room is £150k, but the average is £13.63k – not representative of the sample.

The important message for couples to take from this report is to obtain transparent information at the outset of separation as to the potential costs of your legal representation and to bear in mind – the more you fight, the more it costs.

Do you have any thoughts on the hidden costs of divorce?

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