Getting a Divorce? These Unexpected Costs Might Blindside You

Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston share an awkward quiet moment -- like a couple prepping for a divorce -- in "The Break-Up"

Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston share an awkward quiet moment — like a couple prepping for a divorce — in The Break-Up. | Universal

Sometimes divorce is the best option — in spite of how taxing, tolling, and heartbreaking it might be. For everyone involved, going through a divorce can be absolutely devastating. It can involve splitting your family apart, moving, sifting through finances — and the list goes on. And even if you think you have an idea of what you’ll end up losing when it’s all said and done, the price can be higher than anticipated.

Although you can do your best to decrease your odds of a failing marriage, the fact is things happen. Life gets in the way. People change. When that happens, it might be in your best interest to throw in the towel and move on. You can do a post-mortem on your relationship if that helps, but most people simply want to get on with their lives.

The problem, however, is it isn’t that easy. You might still be wrestling with the emotional grief of losing your marriage, but the financial costs can be quietly mounting up in the background.

Again, there are things you can do to protect yourself. But even if you take those steps and engage in protective measures, you can get blindsided by costs you never saw coming. In fact, the financial fallout of a failed marriage can follow you around for years — decades, even — depending on the circumstances.

How much could you actually end up losing? And what are some of these hidden costs we’re talking about?

Adding up the costs of a divorce

An Apple iPhone 6s displaying the calculator

It takes a lot of math to divide assets. |

How much you could lose is one thing. Being prepared for it is another. If you’re trying to get a basic picture of what a divorce will end up costing you, you could use any number of tools. Although a good old-fashioned calculator and some notebook paper might suffice, you should try something a little more robust.

One suggestion? A divorce calculator, such as this one available in app form from Avvo. Applications and tools like this can help you in a number of ways — whether you’re simply curious as to what a failed marriage could cost you or if you’re in the early stages of actually getting divorced. These apps can help you figure out alimony and spousal support payments, determine what it will cost to divvy up your assets, and even connect you to legal help.

It’s a valuable tool if you feel like doing a deeper dive. If you’d rather not think about it, nobody could blame you. It’s not a fun thing to contemplate.

As for some of those hidden or unforeseen costs? They’re still in play, even if you use a calculator like the one from Avvo. Here are five of them which you should do your best to take into account if you’re crunching the numbers in a divorce.

1. Alimony or spousal support

divorce papers

Don’t forget about spousal support. | J. Emilio Flores/Getty Images

As mentioned, alimony and spousal support costs should be a part of your calculations. A lot of people don’t even consider this, however, as it seems a bit antiquated. But if you’re the family breadwinner? It can hurt. How much you’ll end up paying will depend on a number of factors, including your earnings, where you live, etc. There’s also child support to take into consideration — which can add hundreds or thousands of dollars into the mix.

And when it comes to all that stuff you have (or the money you owe)? That’ll need to be divided up.

2. Division of assets and debts

A collection of debt notices and bills

You’ll probably need a lawyer’s help to divide assets and debts. |

Over the course of a marriage, you’ll gain assets, and you’ll accrue debts. You might buy a car (an asset), for example, and mortgage a house (debt). When the marriage is dissolved, it can be messy to clean everything up. Again, there are a lot of things to take into consideration, including how much you’re dealing with, in terms of assets and debts, and where you live. But know that it is going to be a more taxing process than you think because you’ll probably need to pay for legal help along the way.

Do you know what happens to people who go through an emotionally traumatic event like a divorce? They often need counseling — and not legal counsel.

3. Counseling

Woman going through counseling

Counseling could be well worth the cost. |

Yes, you might need to see a counselor after your marriage falls apart. If you’re really struggling emotionally, it can be worth it. Most people might not even consider it, and instead they opt to tough it out. But sometimes, the need for counseling goes beyond just you. Your kids might need someone to talk to, as well. And if they’re not too happy with their parents, a counselor might be the person to do it.

And don’t forget it can be expensive to pack up all your stuff and get out of the house.

4. Moving expenses

Movers packing up stuff

Moving costs good money. |

It might seem trivial in light of everything that you’re dealing with, but moving is expensive. If you’re suddenly in a situation in which you need to find new living arrangements, you might need several thousand dollars just to make it happen. That includes the actual process of moving — packing up everything, getting a truck or movers, and getting it to your new place — but also the initial costs of renting a house or apartment. Add in first and last month’s rent and a security deposit, and you have another unanticipated expense to deal with.

Finally, untangling all of your paperwork can be financially draining, too.

5. Insurance changes

allstate insurance sign

You might need all new insurance plans. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

As a married couple, you likely have all of your insurance plans intertwined. That can include health plans, dental plans, auto insurance, home insurance — and the list goes on. Dissolving all of that and shopping for new plans can be a hassle — and an expensive one. Again, this is something you probably never even considered and probably wouldn’t in the throes of a failing marriage. But it’s yet another log to throw on the financial fire.

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