5 Hidden Costs of Divorce
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In all the years I’ve been working with divorcing people, I have never met a single person who wasn’t concerned about money. One of the first questions most people ask once they realize they’re headed for divorce is: “OMG! How much is this going to cost?!”
That’s not surprising. Divorce is expensive. No matter how much or how little money you have, if you’re getting divorced you’re going to be worried about money. PERIOD.
Ask any lawyer, “How much does a divorce cost?” and the answer you will inevitably hear is: “It depends!” It depends on how long your divorce takes. It depends on how you get divorced. Most of all, it depends on how much you and your spouse fight.
The truth is…
…a LOT of things can influence how much your divorce costs. A divorce with kids typically costs more than a divorce without kids. Having a lot of complicated investments tends to drive up the cost of your divorce because there are more issues to resolve. Plus, if you have pensions and other retirement accounts to divide, that can drive up the cost of your divorce, too.
But, no matter who you are, or how simple or complex your finances may be, one thing will drive up the cost of your divorce faster than anything else… YOUR EMOTIONS.
The number 1 driver of divorce costs
The more you let your emotions run wild, the more you and your spouse will fight. The more you and your spouse fight, the more expensive your divorce will be. While that may sound simplistic, it’s how the divorce system works.
Divorce lawyers typically charge $250 – $500 per hour, or more. The more time they spend on your case, the more money you spend on them. And lawyers aren’t the only divorce professionals you’re going to have to pay if you and your spouse fight.
depending upon your circumstances…
…you may have to hire forensic accountants, real estate appraisers, mortgage brokers, business evaluators, financial planners, private investigators, custody evaluators and more. The cost of those professionals can quickly add up to tens of thousands of dollars … a month!
While you may think that your ability to control your emotions has little to do with whether you need to hire a financial planner in your divorce: think again.
If you and your spouse can divorce amicably, you may be able to use one neutral financial planner who will run numbers for both of you. If you’re fighting, chances are you will each hire your own separate financial planner. Then you will spend even more time and money arguing about which financial analysis is right.
The same thing is true for every other divorce professional you use. What’s more, if you and your spouse can talk to each other and divorce amicably, you will undoubtedly be able to dramatically reduce the number of divorce professionals you need to hire in the first place.
So, managing your emotions will help you control your divorce costs in a multitude of different ways.
But the cost of your divorce professionals aren’t the only expenses you’re going to have in your divorce. If you truly want to answer the question, “How much will a divorce cost?” you’ve also got to consider the divorce costs that most people don’t even think about.
the top 5 hidden costs of divorce
Dividing one household into two costs money. While it may not seem like setting up a new place will be that expensive, you may be surprised by how much money you will spend buying a second vacuum cleaner, lawn mower, dining room set, etc.
Moving also costs money. Putting a security deposit on an apartment, or a down payment on a house, costs money. In short, everything about your divorce – and all of the life changes it causes – will likely cost you money.
So if you want to accurately assess how much a divorce will cost you then you need to include all of the hidden costs of divorce in your calculation.
Here are some hidden divorce costs
you might not have considered:
NUMBER 1 – TAXES
If you file your income taxes as married filing jointly, you will usually pay the least amount of income taxes. Once you divorce, you must file your income tax return as a single person. That typically means that you will pay income taxes at a higher rate than you did when you were married. (Sorry!)
What’s more, with all of the new tax laws, the tax consequences of divorce will likely be even greater now than they were before. Consult your accountant.
Plus, you also must consider capital gains and the property taxes when you’re divorcing.
If you and your spouse own any stocks, bonds, or other investments, and you sell all or part of them in your divorce, you may be facing capital gains taxes. The same thing will be true if you withdraw funds from a retirement account to pay your divorce expenses, or to pay off your spouse.
While you can transfer money between your retirement account and your spouse’s retirement account in a divorce without creating a tax consequence, to reap that benefit you must make sure that you transfer the money in the right way. If you screw it up, you may find yourself with a hefty tax burden you didn’t see coming.
NUMBER 2 – REAL ESTATE
If you must sell your house because of your divorce, you will have to pay the realtor’s commissions and closing costs of the sale. If your house needs repairs before it can be sold, you will have to pay for those too. Plus, if you’re forced to sell your house in a bad market, you may get less for your house than you think it is worth.
Of course, NOT selling your house can be expensive too.
If you must buy out your spouse’s interest in your house, you first must agree on what your house is worth. That may involve getting multiple appraisals. Plus, if both you and your spouse are on the loan for the house, someone is going to have to pay to refinance that loan. And, with interest rates going up the amount of interest you must pay on your newly refinanced loan may be significantly more than it is right now. I suggest an equity buyout, to lower the rate on the refinance.
NUMBER 3 – EMPLOYMENT
It costs money to get a job!
If you have been out of the workplace for a while you may have to pay to get additional training or education to improve your resume or your skills. You may need to get a new certification or degree. While that can help you earn more money in the long run, it still costs money now.
Even if you your education and skills don’t need an upgrade, your wardrobe might! If you want to get a good job, you’ve got to look good at your interview. Then, when you’ve gotten the job, you must look presentable every day when you show up.
Finally, once you have a job, you will likely have to travel to and from work. All those things cost money.
NUMBER 4 – COUNSELING
Divorce takes a huge emotional toll on everyone involved in the process.
It’s hard on you, your spouse, and your kids. While, hopefully, everyone will adjust eventually, you, your spouse and/or your kids may need help along the way. That means therapy – and therapy, too, costs money.
Thankfully, your medical insurance may cover at least a portion of the cost of therapy. But if you exceed the allowable number of visits that your insurance allows, or your insurance doesn’t cover the cost of therapy, then you may find yourself having to budget for this expense, too.
At the same time, investing in therapy may save you money in your divorce. (Remember, the #1 driver of divorce costs is your emotions!) So, what you lose paying for therapy you may gain back in lower legal fees.
NUMBER 5 – HEALTH INSURANCE
When you are married, you, your spouse, and your kids typically share one health insurance policy. Once you are divorced, that ends.
Most health insurers will not continue to cover you on your spouse’s insurance policy after you are divorced. Since it’s typically cheaper for both spouses to be covered on one insurance policy than it is for each spouse to have his/her own policy, getting divorced usually means that collectively your family will pay more for health insurance.
While you may think that health insurance shouldn’t be a problem because you can just go through COBRA, that’s not necessarily true. While COBRA insures that, in cases where COBRA applies, you can continue to get insurance through your spouse’s employer after your divorce, it has nothing to do with your cost.
When you get insurance through COBRA you have to pay both your portion of the insurance premium and the employer’s portion of the insurance premium. Generally, that means that COBRA ends up costing you more.
So how much will a Divorce cost?
According to Forbes Magazine, the average cost of a divorce in the U.S. is between $15,000 – $30,000. Lawyers.com lists the average cost of divorce at $19,200. And the online legal document production company, Legal Zoom, claims that you can get a DIY divorce for under $1,000.
When you factor in the hidden costs of divorce, it’s easy to see that the real cost of divorce probably starts at thousands of dollars and goes up from there.
What do you do if you want a divorce, but you don’t want to spend a small fortune getting one?