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The cost of Divorce – Sep/Oct2016

The cost of Divorce - Sep/Oct2016

Seniors are getting divorced at a rate faster than ever before. According to the latest figures from Statistics Canada, silver separation (as it’s sometimes called) is on the rise for those who are over the age of 65. In 2008, 1,237 women and 2,486 men (65 and older) divorced. In Canada, it’s estimated that there are more than 71,000 divorces every year. After decades of marriage, there are a number of financial factors to be aware of before you go your separate ways.


The cost to get divorced can vary immensely. According to a survey done by, an uncontested divorce in Canada can cost a minimum of $801, averaging out at around $1,043. It’s always cheaper if both you, and your soonto- be ex, can agree on how to split assets and other issues. However, if the separation isn’t amicable, and the divorce is contested, legal bills could go through the roof – literally. The same survey of 179 lawyers in 2011, found that fees charged by a lawyer for a contested case can be as high as $33,881. The average cost of a contested divorce costs approximately $10,000 per case.


Home prices in Canada have risen significantly. The home that you purchased with your soon-to-be former spouse will be worth a lot more than when you first moved in. This can be a good thing, as the equity in the marital home will leave you both with a sizable chunk of money to purchase your own home, if you so desire. Often, one party may want to stay in the conjugal home, but it’s important to acknowledge that you may not be able to afford the home on your own. In reality, your housing costs will double after a divorce. If you’re covering all the expenses on a single income, you may not be able to enjoy the lifestyle you’ve become accustomed to.


Registered Retirement Savings can also be divided, as well as Canada Pension Plan (CPP) payments. These issues need to be addressed when dividing assets, especially if one spouse stayed at home to raise the children. According to the Government of Canada website, the CPP contributions that you and your spouse, or common-law partner, made during the time that you lived together can be equally divided after a divorce or separation. This is called credit splitting.


Depending upon your preferences and interests, chances are that your entertainment costs will go up once you’re single again. Data shows that single people, regardless of age, spend a disproportionate amount of money going out for dinner, drinks and movies, compared to their married peers. When you’re single, it can be wonderful to have the freedom to meet up with friends, expand your entertainment horizons and, if you so choose, get back on the dating scene – but it all costs money.


The one area where a newly single person can save is on transportation. The marital home had to be conducive to the needs of both you and your partner, whereas your new home just has to serve you. If it’s possible, move closer to where you work and play, and ditch the car. According to data from the Canadian Automobile Association, the average annual cost to own, and operate, a vehicle is $10,456 per year. By reducing your commute and taking public transit, or walking or biking, transportation costs can be reduced dramatically.

Divorce or separation can happen at any time during a relationship. Regardless of the reasons, it’s important that you fully understand your financial situation so that you are prepared for your new single reality.

As finance editor for HOMES Publishing Group, Rubina Ahmed-Haq shares her expertise in our sister publication Condo Life. In addition, she is a regular contributor on CBC Radio, blogger at, and has her own website