cost of divorce

Navigating divorce in the cost of living crisis

Tuesday 28th Nov 2023 |

The rising cost of living in the UK has impacted countless areas of our everyday lives, leaving many people with less disposable income or in severe cases, on the brink of poverty. 

This means that costly events, such as filing for a divorce, are becoming more difficult to navigate, which adds to the stress of an already difficult prospect. There are even reports of couples staying together as people are unable to afford to live on their own, never mind paying for a divorce. This can be even more complicated if children are involved.

If you are considering a divorce but feel stuck due to financial restraints, don’t worry. You don’t have to struggle alone. Here’s what you need to know.

Understanding the cost of living crisis

The cost of living refers to the price of everyday essentials, such as food and bills. In the UK, since late-2021 the cost of living has increased faster than the increase in average household income, which disproportionately affects those on lower incomes.

There are several factors that contribute to this, however, rising inflation is a key driver. This, combined with rising rents and stagnating wages not being raised has created a difficult climate for much of the UK. 

cost of divorce

The impact of divorce on finances

Meanwhile, divorce can take its toll on a couple or individual’s financial situation, even when taking the cost of living crisis out of the equation. Working out whether you can afford to divorce your partner is the first step. Many worry that beyond the cost of the divorce itself, legal fees will become expensive if the case is complex. 

On top of this, you may need to think about creating two households and covering everyday costs and bills individually. You should factor in the possibility of child maintenance payments too, as well as the division of assets.

Legal aspects of divorce

Divorce tends to be split into two types:

  • Contested divorce: Where an agreement on the terms of the divorce cannot be reached
  • Uncontested divorce: Where an agreement on the terms of the divorce is reached and isn’t disputed by the other party

Starting the divorce process online is simple and you’ll quickly be put in touch with expert family lawyers who specialise in these cases. Your divorce lawyer is there to represent you during your case by gathering evidence, preparing the paperwork and negotiating settlements. 

The process can become complicated quickly – particularly in contested divorce cases, which is why it is so important to seek legal counsel.

Managing financial stress during divorce

While some costs associated with divorce are inescapable, there are some steps you can take to help manage additional costs. 

Start by creating a budget. This way, you will be able to track your expenses and make sure you’re not exceeding your spending. Where possible, keep open communication with your ex-partner to help the process run more smoothly. If you’re a homeowner with a mortgage, you should make this a priority, as this tends to be couples’ most valuable asset. You could also seek financial counselling to help you get started. 

Understanding what your divorce might entail can be helpful, so you can select the right approach. For couples divorcing amicably, you can initiate a DIY divorce by applying for it using the UK Government’s online portal. This way you won’t pay legal fees. However, this may expose you to unresolved financial risks later down the line, so approach this with caution. Otherwise, you could opt for a fixed fee divorce, or a lawyer-led divorce if you need more legal support regarding child arrangements or complicated financial matters, for example.

In rare circumstances, some individuals may be able to access Legal Aid, although this tends to be reserved for instances involving domestic abuse or homelessness.

Financial pressures only add to the stresses of divorce but remember that help is out there to help you work through it.