7 Unexpected Divorce Costs and How to Prepare for Them

unexpected divorce costs

Most people think about divorce costs in terms of legal fees and the expenses involved in selling the family home but there are a number of hidden costs that can hit the newly separated hard if they are unprepared.

This is one area where it pays to have a good family law expert on your side to help you anticipate the unexpected divorce costs and financial pressures that lie just around the corner.

Recent research by Aviva found that each year separating couples in the UK spend £1.7bn getting back on their feet. This figure doesn’t include the cost of buying a new home.

Selling the family home

When a relationship is under stress, there can be a strong temptation to sell cheaply in order to move quickly. A good family lawyer will advise you not to compromise the value of your property for a swift sale. A far better option is to take some time to invest in its appearance before it goes on the market. A few thousand pounds spent on redecorating and tidying up things like grouting in the bathroom and loose rendering outside may be an unexpected divorce cost but it could add a lot more to the asset pot ultimately.

Buying a car

Even if there is more than one vehicle in the family, the spare car is often a small run around or company car and most couples share the use of a family-sized car to ferry the children to school and activities. When you split, you might need to consider investing in a family car each so that you can do the school run independently.

Paying for childcare

Depending on the age of your children, how close you will be living to one another and the care arrangements you put in place, you may need to arrange more private childcare after your divorce. This is a cost that is often overlooked when couples are working out how much they will need for future living costs.

Feelgood factors

The Aviva study found that many of the unanticipated costs of divorce involved lifestyle activities such as joining a gym or buying new clothes. One in seven people treat themselves to a post-divorce holiday and many also spend money on learning a new skill or hobby. Far from being frivolous, these kinds of costs are all part and parcel of rebuilding an independent life after divorce.

Planning for financial security

We receive a lot of positive feedback from clients about our prudent handling of their pension assets during divorce. This is an area where we add real value and it has been proven time and again that investment in expert legal advice from a family law firm like ours which specialises in pensions and financial settlements can make a huge difference to the outcome. Read our previous article for more information about dividing pensions on divorce

Seeking out expert financial advice can be particularly helpful for those who haven’t been financially independent before. It’s important to recognise that your financial future needs to be secure right through to retirement and not just for the short to medium term. Our clients often tell us that they have found the input of a financial advisor to be particularly helpful in identifying their long term financial needs and priorities, both during and after the divorce process.

The loss of bulk savings

Running a single home on two incomes is far more cost effective that running two separate homes. Married couples can buy groceries in bulk and share bills between them. One of the biggest shocks for divorcing couples is the fact that running two separate households is not just a case of splitting the finances and leaving each person to carry on with their own share. Even if two properties can be purchased from the sale of the marital home, the combined running costs of each are likely to be considerably higher than the costs of running one property.

Fair split  

One of the other unpredictable factors about divorce and money is how the assets will be split. This can have a massive impact on the amount of wealth each person comes away with. Our article about the factors used to determine the division of assets and whether a 50-50 split is fair gives a good summary of the way financial settlements are negotiated. Again, an experienced divorce solicitor will go through this information with you in detail and will ideally help you reach an amicable and fair agreement that eliminates nasty surprises and uncertainty.


Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounds region) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

He is also the only Resolution accredited specialist solicitor in Harrogate for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.


This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.