Even under the most amicable circumstances, divorce is never easy, it’s hard on everyone involved.  However, as money will play a huge role in helping both parties take the next step, one of the most stressful aspects of a divorce is the financial side so how can you reduce the financial stress in a divorce?

This stress is likely to be heightened if you were not the primary earner or have not previously been involved in your family’s financial planning.  Your worries about money could also increase if your divorce becomes protracted.  Unfortunately, the longer your divorce takes, the more expensive it will become.

Before we look more specifically at how you can ease the financial stress in a divorce, we would like to share some more general tips on how to take care of yourself more generally.

What can you do to reduce the financial stress of divorce?

Many therapists liken the effects of divorce to the grieving process following a bereavement.  Just like losing someone close, there will be negative feelings.  You will feel disorientated, exhausted, regretful, scared and even guilty.  You may find you are exhibiting signs of depression or feeling anxious.  This is the time, therefore, to take the best care of yourself.

It may sound simple, but the most important thing is to not be hard on yourself.  If you are feeling guilt or shame about your marriage ending, remember that, just like the relationship itself, it takes two people to end a relationship. 

Regardless of how things ended, you need to take the pressure off yourself so you and your former partner can find the best way to move on.  This could very well require you to take some time for yourself and find some space in which to think things through properly.

When you have found some time and space for yourself it is a good idea to either occupy this time with a new hobby or interest or by indulging yourself.  Treat yourself to a little pampering or make more of an effort to meet up with friends to do what you like doing most.

You will also need a support network. 

As this will be a hugely emotional time, you will need to lean on friends and family.  This network could require you to reach out to old friends as they could be the people you trust most.   Or, if you are more comfortable discussing the most intimate details with strangers who are going through similar things, it may be worth seeking out a local support group.

The most important way to reduce stress is undoubtedly the most obvious; try to avoid conflict with your former partner.  This is going to be difficult.  You may need to walk away from certain conversations, but these delays will give you time to regroup, lower your emotions and come back to the issues at hand in a more measured frame of mind.

You will also be faced with a whole new legal language.  Make sure you choose your lawyer carefully so you can immediately seek clarification on anything on the legal side you find confusing or overwhelming.  Working through the legal issues as they crop up will reduce the level of stress around your divorce.

How can you ease finance-related stress in a divorce?

Divorce has a substantial financial element.  The most obvious concerns are making sure you can cover both the ongoing payments you will need to make to your former partner and the other costs that will arise during the divorce, for example your legal costs and the cost of selling your house and/or finding somewhere new for one or both parties to live.

These worries will be amplified for the less affluent party. 

Although they will end the process with the court having reached a decision as to the fairest division of the marital assets and having set future alimony and child support payments.  However, there will be immediate financial worries.  Where will the money to pay for bills and living expenses come from?  How will I cover the mortgage?  How do I cover my legal fees? 

Here are some experts’ tips on how to ease the financial stresses of a divorce:

1. Stay realistic

A lengthy, drawn out divorce will be more costly.  To keep control of costs, be realistic about your decisions and demands and try to find a compromise whenever possible as long, of course, as the outcomes are in your best interests.

2. Ask for help

As we said earlier, you are probably already feeling hurt, embarrassed, and even guilty about your divorce, but this is not the time to be proud.  If you must, don’t be embarrassed to ask for financial help from family or friends.

3. Consider alternative dispute resolution

Alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation can be less expensive than the traditional court-based approach.  It can also be a great deal less stressful.  It is a realistic option for most marriages but cannot be used if the reason for the divorce is any form of spousal abuse or domestic violence.

4. Sell or liquidate assets

You could consider selling or liquidating any high value assets such as pensions, savings, property or jewellery to cover your initial expenses.  However, before agreeing to anything, you should consult with a tax professional to assess whether doing so would make you liable to capital gains tax or early withdrawal penalties. 

5. Seek out pro bono help

While you should always seek the best legal support you can afford, organisations like the Citizens Advice Bureau can provide a free initial perspective and set out the options available to you before you choose and instruct a lawyer.

6. Go online

Although you should never take legal advice from the internet, there are many sites that explain the divorce process.  These might help you form an overview of what will come next.  Many divorcees have also shared their experiences.  You may find it helps to hear how other people tackled the situation you now find yourself in and what they did to reach their outcome.

Saying this, we would also stress you should be incredibly wary of online divorce services. 

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) – the UK’s competition watchdog – has launched an investigation into several online divorce providers.  This was spurred by an increasing number of cases reporting misleading claims about both the final cost and the transparency of the process and pricing that left clients confused about exactly what they were paying for.

We can’t hide the fact divorce will be financially and emotionally challenging.  However, our experienced family barristers are here to guide you through the process and reduce the financial stress of your divorce.  If you would like to speak to one today, please contact us today.

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