Money Talks, So Should You

Q&A: What are the hidden costs of divorce?

Maura Griffin
by Maura Griffin, The Garrett Network  (@mauragriffin)

If you’re going through a divorce, you already know it’s expensive. Some of the costs are obvious, including lawyers, separate residences, and child support.

But there are also hidden costs to keep your eye on.

For example, the loss of “family discount” plans on phone, cable, and insurance bills. Even the need for therapy for you or your kids can add to costs. With good planning, however, the money shocks of divorce can be eased.

READ: I'm getting a divorce; should I see a financial adviser?

Little things you might not count, like missing time off work to meet an attorney or go to a mediation session. And if real estate is involved, there can be extra fees involved in refinancing a mortgage, creating new deeds and title insurance and other transfer costs. Also, your need to pay childcare could go up if you no longer have the ex as in-house back-up babysitter.

Retirement nest eggs are often halved, leaving each side with reduced assets heading into retirement. The splits are intended to be fair, if not necessarily equal --- so the important thing is to make sure you have an accurate picture of what your spending and saving will be in retirement and before, and to plan from there.

READ: Is the spouse automatically the recipient of assets in the event of death?

How to prepare?

Get accurate figures for all your added expenses before you run aground by doing the following:

  1. Determining your budget and figuring out all the added costs of living on your own
  2. Do a trial run of your tax return as an individual to see what you will owe
  3. Try to work together to reduce legal costs, even though emotions may point you in the other direction.

Another step to take: Make sure your credit history is accurate and correctly reflects your individual credit score as a single person.


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Maura Griffin, CEO and principal of New-York-City-based Blue Spark Capital Advisors LLC, concentrates on helping women, men and their families make smart financial decisions. Maura graduated from Georgetown University with a B.A. in literature and earned her M.B.A. at Columbia University.