The Real Cost of Divorce

Father and daughter play together in the living room.

When people think about divorce, the thought of how much it will cost sometimes follows. Depending on your situation, the monetary cost of divorce can vary greatly. In any case, ending a marriage will have a price, but that price includes more than just money. Emotional distress, energy, and time are also included in the real cost of divorce. Learn about the various aspects of the real cost of divorce and how you may be able to lower it. 

How Much Money Will A Divorce Cost?

Pinpointing the average monetary cost of divorce is somewhat difficult because there are so many variables to consider. Whether or not children are in the picture, how much property must be divided, how much time the divorce takes, and so many other factors really make the average cost of divorce vary from case to case. Even more, the way that a couple chooses to divorce will affect the average cost. Litigating a divorce in a courtroom with lawyers can be very costly, especially if the couple makes return trips to the courtroom.

In a study published by Aviva in 2014, the average cost of divorce for a couple in the UK totals at about £44,000. This is a significant increase to what Aviva reported in a similar study from 2006 when they reported the cost of divorce being around £28,000 per couple. They also reported that while the cost of legal fees has dropped recently, the other costs that many divorcing couples face have risen including child maintenance. When a divorce is handled in a courtroom through litigation, the overall cost has a tendency to rise. On the other hand, if a couple is able to settle their case through means like collaborative divorce or mediation, the overall costs have a tendency to be lower.

Costs of Divorce Beyond Just Money

Divorce is expensive, but the real cost is truly complex. There are many different reasons for why a couple may choose to end their relationship, but doing so always comes with an emotional price tag. Going through a divorce can cause people to experience unpleasant emotions such as anger, frustration, regret, and sadness. It's not just the couple involved that experience these feelings; if children are involved, they will feel all of these things too. No matter how old they were when it happened, children will carry the emotions felt during their parents' divorce for long after it's over.

Children pay for a divorce by way of the negative emotions they experience during and after it's all over. Parents also pay a longstanding emotional toll, but they also pay with their time as they go through the motions of working on their case. Filling out forms, meeting with lawyers, and court appearances can cost someone a lot of personal time. Organising documents, like records of shared assets or expense details, can take a quite a bit of time as well. Even after your case is finalised, you may have to continue to maintain documents like records of your communication, shared calendar, parenting expenses, and much more.

Lowering The Cost of Divorce

While a divorce will have its price, lowering the overall cost is possible. To lower the monetary cost, try to keep your divorce as amicable as possible. Instead of litigation, settling it through collaborative divorce or mediation can help to lower your costs. Going this route may not work in every case, but if you and your ex-spouse can keep your case peaceful and out of the courtroom, consider these options. As always, speak with your lawyer before making any decisions about how to handle your case and to get answers to questions that pertain specifically to your case.

More than just money, you'll want to do all you can to lower the emotional cost that is paid by both yourself and your kids. Have a plan in place before your talk to your kids about your divorce so that you are more prepared to answer their questions about things like where they are going to live or where they will go to school. Discuss this topic as a family, and always remind your kids that you both still love them very much. Also, consider enlisting help for yourself and your kids by way of a family therapist. This professional can help save you on the emotional cost of divorce by helping you work through your feelings and teach you healthy ways to cope.

While saving yourself money and emotional distress during your divorce, you can also save on the cost of time by educating yourself and organising your information. Education begins by learning about what your case may entail. You can do some research online by visiting your local family court's website to get some information about what your paperwork might be like, how much filing fees may cost, and more. Once you've done your own research, create a list of questions that are more specific to your situation that you can bring to your lawyer. To help yourself stay organised throughout and after the divorce process, get your paper documents in order and keep them in a safe place. You may even consider making digital copies and uploading them to a secure place online that can be shared with your lawyer. Finally, keep your ongoing communication with your ex-spouse organised in such a way that makes it easy for you to access and locate details you need. Using a tool like OFW® can help to take away some of the stress of keeping your shared parenting information organised as well as accessible to both of you. 

When it's all laid out in front of you, the cost of divorce can look like a lot to take on. Money, emotions, and time are all on the line when you make this decision. However, if you feel like ending your relationship is the healthiest thing you can do for yourself and your children, you should do what you feel is best. In any case, speak to your legal and mental health professionals to get answers to your specific questions and to learn healthy ways to move your family forward through this difficult process.


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.