Average cost of divorce over £13,000

18 June 2003
Couples divorcing in Britain today face a bill of over £13,000, according to a new study.

The research, conducted by Norwich Union, reveals that more than £2 billion is spent by divorcees in the initial 12 months following the divorce.

With 157,000 marriages in Britain ending each year, Norwich Union found that property was the most costly item, with over a third of former couples (35 per cent) forced to sell their home to cover costs.

Many were also forced to turn to savings, with 41 per cent stating that they used an average £6,250 from a savings account, or up to £800 million nationwide each year.

Just two per cent of people questioned had a pre-nuptial agreement but more than one in four said they would have been better off had they had one drawn up prior to their wedding.

A typical divorce settlement takes more than a year to negotiate. However, 60 per cent of those questioned ended their marriages amicably, but insisted that an amicable parting makes little difference to the final bill.

Maintenance payments were paid or received by less than a third (30 per cent) of people interviewed, while around six per cent agreed a lump sum payment.

One in five people (20 per cent) spent cash on items that they would not have bought if not divorced, with a holiday coming out as the top treat and a shopping spree a close second

Louise Goffee, of Norwich Union, commented, 'Real life can throw up lots of surprises and sometimes that can mean that we face tough times as well as good. With four out of ten marriages ending in failure, divorce is a situation that some of our customers may have to deal with at some point during their lifetime.

'We undertook this research to try and understand our customers' spending patterns so that we can help them to plan for the future. This is particularly necessary as concerns about the savings gap begin to grow.'

The survey also points out the high emotional cost of a divorce. Almost half of divorcees (46 per cent) ranked ending their marriage as the most stressful experience, ahead of both bereavement and redundancy. 40 per cent of those surveyed said they would never marry again.

Of those surveyed, 28 per cent found it stressful to adjust to single parenthood and 26 per cent found it hard to establish a new social circle.