Unexpected Divorce Costs You Should Prepare For

Most people considering a divorce understand that there will be a financial impact stemming from the decision. The process of going from two incomes to one income and even determining new living arrangements can significantly impact the daily expenses of those going through a divorce. However, there are some expenses associated with a divorce that take people by surprise. These unexpected costs can range from healthcare to higher taxes. If you’re considering the impact of a divorce on your finances, the right attorney can help you understand the next steps.

To help plan for your future and to understand what other costs can be associated with marital dissolution, here are some common and unexpected divorce costs to prepare for.

Moving Expenses

One of the first things that often happens when a spouse files for divorce is that one person vacates the family home. In some circumstances, both partners will have to relocate because they cannot afford to pay for their shared home. Relocating brings many unexpected expenses along with it, including packing supplies, renting a moving vehicle, and down payments or deposits on a new home.

This also presents the additional challenge of one person being responsible for all expenses like rent, utilities, and food when those things were previously shared, which increases the overall cost of living. If your divorce is initiated quickly, covering these costs can be more challenging because there is no time to prepare or save.

Cost of Dividing Assets

When a Petition for Dissolution has been filed either by you or your spouse, the process of divorce has officially begun. This means that you will have to meet with your spouse to finalize a parenting plan for your children, establish a spousal support agreement, and divide all of your assets. California is classified as a community property state because each spouse is entitled to fifty percent of all shared marital assets unless there is a prenuptial agreement in place.

Most people understand that their assets will be divided after a divorce. The process of dividing assets can bring unexpected costs like:

  • Transfer title fees
  • Home inspected and reassessment for sale
  • Higher insurance rates

Tax Increases

Filing your taxes as a married couple offers tax incentives such as a higher standard deductible and higher limits on gift taxes, which can save you a significant amount on your annual tax bill. After a divorce is finalized, ex-spouses no longer have access to these perks, so their tax bill may be much higher than what they are used to. This additional expense can be unexpected, particularly if your spouse was always responsible for filing your joint taxes.

Retirement Plans

Perhaps surprisingly, RAs and 401Ks through your employment are not solely yours. In fact, in California, these retirement plans are considered marital property. That means you’ll have to go through the process of dividing these plans with your ex-spouse during the divorce. While this might not impact you immediately, it can definitely impact your future finances.


Q: What Are the Unexpected Costs of Divorce?

A: The process of ending a marriage always comes with a cost from legal costs and filing fees, which you can work to prepare for. There are some costs, however, that can come as a surprise during the process of your divorce and life after. Transferring the title of a car, moving into a new home, and having taxes reevaluated can all lead to unexpected costs when you are getting divorced.

Q: What Should I Consider Financially When Getting Divorced?

A: When you make the decision to file for divorce, it is important to prepare financially so you are able to maintain your lifestyle once it is finalized. You will need to consider how you will support yourself, especially if you did not work full time during your marriage, because you will be responsible for all expenses after your divorce. It is also important to consider how you can minimize some costs, potentially by downsizing your home or carefully budgeting for essentials like groceries.

Q: How Do I Prepare for an Eventual Divorce?

A: Preparing for a divorce can help ease some of your stress because there will be fewer surprises along the way. Evaluating the value of your assets and possessions prior to finalizing a divorce makes it easier to ensure that assets are divided fairly. If you are able, begin saving money before you file for divorce so you are more prepared for unexpected costs like title transfers. When relocating, create a budget for what you can afford or find loved ones you can stay with so you are not left homeless. One of the most effective ways to prepare is with the advice and guidance of an accomplished divorce attorney.

Q: How Do You Split Finances Before Divorce?

A: Financial uncertainty can be one of the most stressful aspects of a divorce because you may feel unsure of how you will pay your bills and put food on the table. Splitting your finances prior to filing for your divorce can make the process easier because it helps you avoid legal hassles like mediation. In order to protect yourself and your credit, it may be helpful to close any joint bank accounts and look into refinancing any loans so they are only in one spouse’s name.

The Law Offices of Patricia A. Rigdon Can Help You Prepare for Divorce

Filing for divorce, completing all of the necessary steps, and getting a final judgment to end your marriage can be a strenuous and emotional process. On top of paying your attorney and the cost of filing a petition, unexpected costs like moving expenses, fees for transferring assets, and changing health care costs after losing insurance can add an additional layer of frustration to the proceedings. Patricia A. Rigdon is experienced in family law and has walked many clients through divorce. Her guidance can prepare you for the hidden costs of a divorce.  Contact our offices today whether your divorce is collaborative, requires mediation, or has to go through the litigation process.