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Cost of divorce rises to over £14,500

The cost of separation and divorce has increased by 17% over the past 4 years.

According to a report by Aviva, the legal and lifestyle costs of separation in 2018 amount to an average of £14,561 - up 17% since 2014 when the total was £12,432.

Overall, £1.7 billion is spent on separation costs in the UK - an increase of £100 million since 2014.

Legal fees make up a large amount of the expenses, having more than doubled from £1,280 to £2,679 over the same time period.

Setting up a new home also represented a significant cost for people going through separation or divorce, as it was revealed 16% buy a new property and 51% return to renting.

Paul Brencher, health and protection director at Aviva UK, said:

"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 all the harder due to the lack of preparedness by many.

"Ensuring a better mutual understanding of household finances can make navigating the process more manageable if the relationship takes an unforeseen turn."

Immediate financial concerns

Separation can be a difficult process, which is made worse by additional financial uncertainty.

Until the division of assets is agreed, both parties remain responsible for debt on joint credit cards or mortgages, so ensuring bills are still paid on time and neither party is at risk of falling into debt is essential.

Early on, it's often best to leave everything the same until the broader separation process is outlined.

Splitting assets

As long as both parties agree, the division of assets can be established without anyone else's involvement.

However, it is worth employing a solicitor to draft a consent order and have it legally approved by court.

If a mutual agreement cannot be reached, and mediation has failed, you can apply to take the decision to court.

The court will take into account various factors, including the length of the partnership, the age of each party, standard of living and the earnings of each party.

Maintenance

If there is a significant disparity in income, the court may issue a maintenance order.

This means the person with a higher income will be required to make regular payments to help with the other's living costs.

Maintenance payments can be arranged either for a set period of time, or until the receiver dies, remarries or re-enters a civil partnership.

This arrangement can be changed or cancelled according to circumstances, such as entering a higher-paid job.

Property

There are 4 main options for how a family home can be divided:

  1. the home is sold and the money raised is split between both parties 
  2. one party buys the other out
  3. ownership remains as it is, with one party living in the property (usually until children are 18)
  4. part of the property's value is transferred to one party as part of the financial settlement.

Savings and pensions

Pension pots and savings are often among the largest assets owned by an individual, and the way they are divided differs across the UK.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the total value owned by both parties is taken into account.

But in Scotland, only the value that has been built up during the partnership is taken into account.

The way pensions are split during a separation also depends on the pension type, so seek professional advice.

We can help you manage your finances.