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Does Divorce Have To Cost You A Fortune?

divorceThe cost of getting a divorce is rocketing, according to a new study. Research by Aviva has found that the average cost of de-coupling has reached £44,000 for UK couples, although it might surprise you how that much money is spent.

According to the life insurance company, the costs of actually getting legally separated have actually fallen. But the costs associated with divorce — such as moving house and child maintenance — have rocketed, so that the average cost per person has climbed from £28,000 per couple to £43,958.

Other costs factored into the figure include splashing out on treats and holidays as people celebrate their newly single status.

£22 grand each is a hell of a bill for an unhappy marriage. So how can you keep the cost down?

How to keep the cost of divorce right down

Unless you start fighting, the cost of a straight-forward divorce is pretty reasonable. In England and Wales, the fee for filing for divorce is £410; the fee for obtaining your decree absolute is £50; a court fee for an application for financial proceedings is £255; and once you’ve agreed those then it will cost you £45 for a judge to approve them and make the consent order binding.

So, for a couple who can amicably split, the whole thing should cost no more than £760. But even amicable exes may want to get some legal advice so their interests are protected; and that can cost around £100 to £200 an hour. The Money Advice Service reports that if you use a solicitor to negotiate for you, you’ll typically pay between £3,000 and £10,000 per person – so that’s as much as £20k gone.

So how can you cut the bill?

If you’re seeking an uncontested, dispute-free divorce then you could potentially use an online ‘DIY divorce’ service or one of the law firms that caps the cost of a simple divorce so that you’re not hit by an unexpectedly high bill.

You might also use mediation to resolve any financial and custodial agreements before you arrive in court, to reduce the need for expensive legal representation and long, drawn-out battles. According to the Ministry of Justice, the cost of mediation starts at £500 per couple.

However, it is usually still be a good idea to consult a lawyer even briefly to make sure your interests are protected.

What about the treats?

Becoming newly single can be frightening or liberating, and, as Aviva’s research found, it can really make people spend.

We spoke to 30-year-old Cathy (not her real name), who divorced at the age of 28. She explained how she kept a check on the extra costs:

“When the decree nisi came through I had this crazy urge to spend money. I thought about buying a new wardrobe, taking a holiday, joining the most expensive gym and signing up to every dating site going. I was kind of scared about the prospect of being single and I suppose I wanted to… buy confidence.

“But fortunately I stopped myself in time and worked out how much I could afford to blow. I ended up joining one dating site and buying a few new dresses to wear on dates. I joined a better priced gym and resisted the urge to spend thousands on a holiday using my credit card – although I am saving up for a trip with my friends.”

Finding financial freedom

Divorce can be sad or it can be liberating, but once the paperwork is done and dusted then you’re free to get on with your life. And that might include a holiday or treat or two, but it’s also a good time to think about your finances.

Without a partner to support - or rely on - it's time to really concentrate on growing your own wealth, and that's where the Motley Fool can help. We have a serious long-term plan that could allow you to build a substantial portfolio and it's free to read.    

Check out our guide 10 Steps To Making A Million In The Market to learn how a manageable yearly investment has the potential to build up to a serious portfolio.

We'll also show you how to use your tax-free NISA to develop your portfolio, so that not even the taxman can help himself.