The Cost of Divorce
Key Points
  • The time and cost of a divorce is almost always greater than what one expects.
  • The cost of a divorce adds up, but so does the new expenses that come along with each spouse living separate from one another.
  • Most spouses going through a divorce experience a reduction in the quality of lifestyle compared to the one they enjoyed as a married couple living under the same roof.

One of the greatest misunderstandings about divorce is the seemingly universal concept that all will be over quickly and that the two parties can get on with their lives as if it never happened. Unfortunately, divorce can take longer and cost more money than ever previously imaginable. The real facts state that the average divorce process requires one to two years and varies in cost from several hundred to several thousand dollars.

Other financial ramifications involved could include a new rental or mortgage payment for a separated spouse as well as new alimony and/or child support payments to be made for both the short and long-term. In general, it is best to accept that change is on the horizon and act accordingly. In other words, be prepared for money to suddenly be in short supply.

Another misconception is the fact that, in concert with the marriage dissolution, each party receives half (or what is fair and equitable) of what was shared. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that. Not only are there actual costs involved in the present with a divorce, but down the road, too, as spouses do not necessarily earn the same amount of money or possess the same potential to earn money in the future. Also, in many cases today, many couples are extended financially beyond their combined means, let alone singularly. Often, the financial structure of a given household is particularly frail and both parties can literally be swept away by a powerful event such as divorce.

There are very real factors that must be kept in mind after the decision to divorce has been reached. The cost involved is obviously one factor and often this requires a change or reduction in the quality of lifestyle. For one, attorney fees and court costs will become part of everyday life as might those of other divorce-related professionals and will now cut into previously disposable income.

Useful Online Tools

Suggested Reading
The Property Division Handbook The Property Division Handbook
This book will explain in detail the property distribution aspect of divorce and separation. It will focus on the rights each spouse has under certain laws, situations, and circumstances, and how the division of the property will be decided by the court or through negotiation.

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DATE OF SEPARATION – Depending upon the laws of the state of residence, the Date of Separation – called the DOS – has a profound impact on the eventual division and distribution of property and debt, including credit, pension benefits, and other marital assets. As of the DOS, the separated spouses are now in limbo legally and financially and remain so until the actual Date of Divorce. A great deal of money may be at stake. For example, one spouse may share responsibility for any debts incurred by the other; the value of a retirement plan or other marital asset, such as residential property, may fluctuate, often by thousands of dollars.
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