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 you hard if you are unprepared.

Not all family lawyers are the same.  It pays to have a good family law solicitor on your side to help you anticipate unexpected divorce costs and financial pressures that lie just around the corner.

Research by Aviva has 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.

We have detailed below 7 of the most common unexpected costs to help you prepare:

1. 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; however, it could ultimately add a lot more to the asset pot.

2. 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 many 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.

3. 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 additional 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.

4. 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.

5. 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

Getting expert 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 adviser to be particularly helpful in identifying their long term financial needs and priorities, both during and after the divorce process.

6. The loss of bulk savings

Running a single home 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.

7. 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 an experienced family lawyer specialising in complex divorces involving significant or hidden assets, as well as cases involving children.

He is recommended for family law by both Chambers 2019 (York, Hull and surrounding regions) and the Legal 500 2018 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

Everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be replied upon.  If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing