Can you afford to divorce?


While some divorces come as a surprise to some, others are the exact opposite. In fact, more and more people are planning their divorce before actually telling their partner and moving out of the matrimonial home. Interestingly enough, women file for divorce more often than men and are more likely to divorce than die while married!

An important part of planning is making sure that you can afford to divorce! But first let’s look at some facts*:-

  • In Australia, around one third to half of marriages ends in divorce;
  • About 29 per cent of Australians never marry;
  • During the past two decades, Australians started to marry less and divorce more;
  • About one third of children today are born outside the traditional marriage;
  • Men are more likely to die than to divorce (33.4 per cent chance for a marriage to end in divorce, and 47 per cent chance for a man to die while married);
  • Women are more likely to divorce than to die (33.4 per cent chance for a marriage to end in divorce, and 22 per cent chance for a woman to die while married) – this is due to longer life expectancy for women;
  • Women file more divorce applications than men;
  • Most men divorce between the age of 40 and 44, women between 35 and 39;

So while it appears women are the main instigators for filing for a divorce, it is important to establish whether you can actually survive financially after a divorce. Here are some important financial considerations that you need to consider.

  • The household spending for a couple and two children is actually NOT that much different to that of a household of a divorcee where there is one adult and two children, even where the children have shared cared with both parents. So if you are currently living off two incomes then it is likely you are going to have a change your lifestyle when your family income drops down to only one income. It is likely that you will need to do a budget and start thinking about what your priorities are as far as spending is concerned. It may also be worthwhile to have an understanding of your spending habits when considering your property settlement.
  • If young children are involved and depending on the shared care arrangements between parents, you may also receive or pay some child maintenance payments from/to your spouse. If you receive some, then this may help towards your income but in most cases the budget still needs to be looked at. If you have adult children, then it is unlikely you will receive any income and this can mean some serious changes to your spending habits. The Child Support Agency (CSA) website has a handy calculator to work out what sort of assistance you may receive/pay from/to your spouse in terms of child maintenance. Its website is
  • Widow allowance (although a little misleading as it also applies to divorcees) is an allowance you can receive if you divorce later in life. If you have become widowed, divorced or separated later in life and have no recent workforce experience, Widow Allowance assists in providing you with some extra income. You can only claim Widow Allowance if you were born on or before 1 July 1955. To be eligible you must satisfy Centrelink’s income and asset tests, however with some smart financial planning strategies you can maximise the amounts you do receive.
  • While day to day living is important, all divorcees also need to consider their long term planning and how they are going to reach their retirement goals by using the resources of one person as opposed to two. While divorce is sometimes considered to be a wealth destruction plan as you are splitting your assets, obtaining good financial planning advice goes a long way to recovering and setting yourself up to be financially secure long term.
  • Other areas that will need to be reviewed are your wills, enduring powers of attorney, insurance and your superannuation to ensure you update your beneficiaries. From a day to day point of view, you also need to ensure you have a credit card in your own name (not a supplementary card), your own mobile phone (not linked to your spouse) and a separate bank account (that allows you to access  funds). These are areas that you can be caught out on and may not be able to obtain, particularly if you aren’t working when you are divorced. These ideally should be set up prior to divorce.
  • Of course it is always important to ensure you exhaust all avenues to keeping your marriage together. There are many resources available to you and your spouse if you are both committed to saving your marriage, such as couples counseling, marriage workshops, personal development and even your local church leader. However if after exhausting these avenues you are considering a divorce these important tips should be considered and planned for so you have control over your finances and avoid being financially stressed.

Olivia Maragna is the co-founder of Aspire Retire Financial Services and has been recently named the Australian Adviser of the Year. Olivia’s advice is general in nature and readers should seek their own professional advice before making any financial decisions.

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