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How on earth can the average divorce cost $15,000?

These days, everyone knows that a wedding with all of the trimmings can be costly — but did you know that the average American divorce runs about $15,000?

How on earth can a divorce be that expensive? Let’s take a look at one woman’s experience with divorce to see how her total tab went even higher. Here are some of the key takeaways from her divorce:

  1. She and her spouse didn’t have children. Consequently, she assumed that their divorce would be less costly than average. Child custody and support are often two of the hardest-fought issues in a divorce involving children and can drastically raise the expenses associated with a marital split.
  2. The marriage had been short — only eight months — when they decided to end it. They had little financial means or assets.

However, there are a lot of unexpected expenses that couples don’t factor into their divorces, even if they take into account the filing costs, the court costs and the fees for a lawyer to review everything to make sure that it’s legally correct. Here are the expenses she didn’t count on:

  • Moving costs — Finding a new apartment, paying the security deposit, actually moving her possessions and replacing some basic household items (like cookware) cost her over $3,000. That wasn’t something she had considered when she started planning her divorce.
  • Refinancing her car — Like most couples, they had financed her new car in both their names to take advantage of the dual credit. She had to refinance it in her own name in order to proceed with the divorce. That ended up increasing her monthly payment by about $50 and extending the loan another year. That was an additional $3,000 she wasn’t anticipating.
  • Paying half of a joint loan — She’d agreed to co-sign her husband’s title loan on his truck and had to pay $6,000 (half the total) to get out of it.

Those were just the big expenses. She also had to pay to separate their phone plans, pay the court fees and pay a therapist for counseling to get through the stress. Her eventual divorce costs were over $17,000 once she tallied everything.

Nobody is suggesting that you stay married because of the expense of divorce — but you do need to be realistic. A divorce attorney can help you make sense of your options.