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‘I want a divorce but I don’t think I’ll survive financially’

Divorce is a big decision.

Bringing an end to any relationship can have huge emotional repercussions, but when you are married, whether for a relatively short time or decades, the emotional fallout can be very painful.

There are lots of considerations, such as how to tell your partner you want a divorce, what you’ll do with any kids, and, for a lot of people, what does the future look like financially?

Will it be easier if I stay in my unhappy marriage?

Money can be the reason people break up, but for many it can also be the reason for staying together. You might be weighing up your options and whether you’d just be better off staying in an unhappy marriage in order to remain economically secure.

The saying ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ is overused, but it can be true. If you know that your marriage is at an end, and staying will negatively impact your mental and emotional wellbeing, then no amount of money is going to help save your relationship.

However, it is very natural to be anxious about your life after divorce. You might be worried about how you will afford things like a home, childcare, food, bills and how to keep your standard of living the same.

Short term money worries

You might not be the ‘breadwinner’ in your relationship. Perhaps you have worked part time or taken time out of work to look after the children or because as a couple you are comfortable enough financially for one party not to work.

Whatever the reason, if you are the financially weaker party, you might have lots of concerns around affording things during and after your divorce. You may worry that you can’t afford to divorce.

Sadly, money is an unavoidable topic in divorce. Short term costs like court fees and legal fees can be stressful. However, there are ways of mitigating the impact. By engaging in non-adversarial process like mediation you can limited legal fees, as well as additional emotional stress of taking the divorce to court.

Some couples choose to manage most of the divorce themselves. However, there are a number of risks associated with doing a DIY divorce, so it is best to seek legal advice where possible, particularly regarding finances

If you are concerned about short term funds, you can apply for legal aid or an interim financial consent order which the court makes, meaning your ex-partner must pay you some maintenance whilst the divorce is progressing.

It can be difficult but try to think rationally about what might be expected of you financially during and post-divorce. If you are financially weaker, it is highly unlikely you will need to pay any kind of maintenance, and there may be options for your ex-spouse to cover your legal fees.

Please note that Stowe Family Law does not offer legal aid.

I’m anxious about my financial future

The law in this country means that financial settlements begin from a starting point of a 50/50 split. However, a court will look at all the factors, including housing, children, pensions, future income potential and a host of other things when giving a consent order.

If you are financially weaker than your spouse, it may be that you are entitled to spousal maintenance, or a lump sum payment as part of a clean break. Remember to seek legal advice as to what you will likely be entitled to – this can help put your mind at ease.

A lot of people worry that after divorce, they will not be able to afford nice things like holidays, gifts or outings and will struggle to make ends meet.

This can be stressful, particularly if you think your ex-partner is likely to be in a better financial position post-divorce. If you have children, you might be worried about the difference in life you could offer compared to your ex.

However, children who are living with parents who are unhappy in their marriage will pick up on this. Ultimately, they will want to see you happy, and creating a positive environment, doing free activities and making happy memories together will be worth more than any big gifts or expensive holidays.

There are lots of organisations and people that can help if you are feeling anxious about money, whether before, during or post-divorce. Reaching out and talking to someone can help relieve tension and let you know that you’re not alone.

Useful Links

Stay at home mum’s rights in divorce

Can I get divorced if I’m in debt?

When ‘I do’ becomes ‘I don’t’

What to do if you think your marriage is over

Is your relationship worth saving? Watch on YouTube

Making your money go further post-divorce – Watch on YouTube

Stowe Support Finances

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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As the UK's largest family law firm we understand that every case is personal.

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