The hidden cost of divorce and separation continues to spiral, with UK couples spending an average of £14,561 on legal and lifestyle costs when they break up, according to new research from Aviva.
The insurer’s Family Finances Report reveals that the cost of divorce has risen by 17% since 2014, when it totalled £12,432.
Driving these increases are rising legal fees, up by 109% from £1,280 to £2,679; increased costs of redecorating a previously shared home, up by 73% from £1,370 to £2,369; and additional legal fees as part of a child custody battle, increasing by 62% from £3,500 to £5,671.
Moving out of the marital home can add an additional £144,600 to this bill on average for those buying a home.
Because of these costs, nearly one in three (31%) of those who have split say they have dipped into their savings for financial support, while over a quarter (26%) admit to using credit cards. Close to a quarter (23%) have also borrowed from friends and family to tide them over.
The findings come as the latest official data from the Office for National Statistics reports that the number of (opposite sex) divorces in England and Wales increased by 6% between 2015 and 2016 to 106,959 – the first “notable” rise since 2009.
On the first working Monday of the year – dubbed ‘divorce day’ – research published by law firm Slater and Gordon found that the most common reason for divorce is financial problems, ahead of work stress and not spending enough time together.
‘Both partners should take an active interest in financial affairs’
Paul Brencher, Aviva UK health and protection director, says: “The breakdown of a marriage or long-term relationship is likely to be one of the most emotionally demanding life events for people who experience it. Such circumstances are made harder due to the lack of preparedness by many.
“Without taking away from the primary emotional strain, there are other significant costs which have the potential to cause further disruption to family units. Aside from the costs of a new home, separating couples across the UK spend £1.7bn getting back on their feet after the breakdown of a relationship on costs including legal fees, buying a car or paying for a newfound need for childcare.
“Therefore, it is little surprise that they are drawn towards their savings for support or borrowing from friends and family. Many additionally find themselves priced out of the property market.
“While it may seem completely unnecessary to plan for such an unfortunate life event, it is important that both partners in a relationship take an active interest in their financial affairs, even if one tends to take the lead. Ensuring a better mutual understanding of household finances can make navigating the process more manageable if the relationship takes an unforeseen turn, while preventing long-term financial planning from going off course.”
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