The cost of getting a divorce

Canada Life - Feb 01, 2023
And five after divorce expenses you’ll need to deal with.
Father and daughter sitting on the couch playing a video game

No matter the reason, getting a divorce can be stressful.

It could be the world’s friendliest split that makes you both happy but it’s still an emotional process. Not only will you have a lot of feelings to work through but also the logistics of splitting up with your partner. You might have to move, work out custody schedules if you have children, make decisions about property, shared belongings and even who gets the dog. There are also the expenses tied to getting a divorce and planning for your financial future. Let’s look at what some of these costs could look like. 

How much does a divorce cost? 

How much a divorce costs depends on a lot of things. Like how agreeable you and your spouse are and whether the divorce is uncontested or contested.  An uncontested divorce happens when the couple has resolved their issues and agree on all matters. A contested divorce is needed when the parties can’t agree on some or all details. In a contested divorce the courts will settle any disagreements. A contested divorce takes more time and costs more money.

The Canadian Lawyer’s 2018 Legal Fees Survey found the cost of an uncontested divorce to be between $1,400 and $1,600. A contested divorce can cost up to $23,000. However, it’s not a one-size-fits-all price tag. The more complicated or combative a divorce, the more expensive it’ll be.

What to know about an uncontested divorce:

  • Less expensive and takes less time than a contested divorce
  • Can be less stressful
  • Can be unfair if there’s a power imbalance, especially if there’s abuse 
  • Not suitable if you don’t understand the process

What to know about a contested divorce:

  • More expensive and time consuming than an uncontested divorce
  • Can be more stressful
  • Necessary if both parties can’t come to an agreement
  • Appropriate if you suspect the other party isn’t being truthful or might be hiding assets

There are pros and cons to both uncontested and contested divorces. A divorce lawyer can help guide you through the important legal issues and recommend the appropriate divorce path to take.

Other expenses after divorce

While legal and financial matters are decided during your divorce your expenses won’t end there. Here’s some examples of costs you should budget for after your divorce is final:

  1. Living arrangements: if you’re staying in the marital home, you’ll most likely need to refinance the mortgage, change the name on the deed and arrange your own home insurance. If you’re moving, you’ll have all the costs associated with buying a house or first and last month rent if you’re renting. 
  2. Replacing household items: depending on how you divvy up your things you’re going to need to replace some stuff. This might include new furniture, linens, small appliances, toiletries and the basics to fill the pantry. If you have children, they’ll need double of everything to fill both homes like two beds, two dressers, toys etc.
  3. Bills: you now must pay your own bills. Everything from insurance, to hydro, to Netflix is on your dime. Family plans for your phones or multi-car discounts will have to be changed since you no longer share. You’ll want to make a list of all the bills you currently pay like utilities, insurance and subscriptions to avoid any surprises after the divorce is finalized. 
  4. Rebuilding your finances: the same amount of money that supported one household now needs to support two. Now that the divorce is over and you’ve paid all the fees associated with it, it’s time to take stock of your financial situation. It most likely will have changed dramatically from when you were married. Depending on your circumstances you might be paying more for your housing and associated bills. You’ll need to set a new budget and put plans together to save for your future.
  5. Therapy: during your divorce you might be so focussed on the financial stressors that you forget to take care of yourself. You might be struggling with the loss of your marriage, spending less time with your children or lack of financial security. Finding a therapist could be a good step to coming to terms with your new reality. If your children are struggling, they might also need individual or family counselling. Your employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help you find services in your location. Health Canada also has an EAP you can check out.

How can I help?

Divorce can be stressful both emotionally and financially. I can help you with the financial and tax implications of a divorce. I can also help you set up a plan if you need a new financial strategy. Contact me to discuss.