How Has the Cost of Living Crisis in the UK Affected Divorcing Couples?


Jane Auty

The cost of living crisis in the UK has profoundly impacted various aspects of life, including the emotional and financial dynamics of divorcing couples. As inflation rises and household budgets are stretched thin, the complexities of divorce become even more challenging. Here, we explore how the economic strain has reshaped the landscape for couples navigating the end of their marriages.

Financial Strain and Legal Costs

One of the most immediate effects of the cost of living crisis on divorcing couples is the heightened financial strain. Legal fees for divorce can be significant, and with the increasing cost of living, many couples find it harder to afford these expenses. Solicitors, mediators, and court fees all add up, often leading couples to delay proceedings or seek more cost-effective alternatives such as DIY divorces or online services.

The financial burden does not end with legal fees. Divorcing couples must also grapple with the division of assets, which is complicated by fluctuating property values and inflation. For instance, the value of a shared home may have decreased, reducing the equity available for division. Conversely, increased mortgage rates can make it challenging for one party to buy out the other, leading to prolonged disputes and financial uncertainty.

Housing Challenges

Housing is one of the most significant concerns for divorcing couples, and the cost of living crisis has exacerbated this issue. With rental prices and mortgage rates on the rise, finding affordable housing becomes a daunting task. For many, the prospect of maintaining two separate households on the same income that previously supported one is daunting. This often forces one or both parties to downgrade their living arrangements significantly, which can be a tough adjustment, particularly if children are involved.

In some cases, couples are forced to remain living together even after deciding to divorce, simply because they cannot afford to move out. This can lead to increased tension and conflict, making an already stressful situation even more unbearable.

An aerial picture of a UK housing estate

Impact on Children

Children are often the most vulnerable in a divorce, and the cost of living crisis adds another layer of complexity to their well-being. Parents may find it difficult to maintain the same level of financial support, leading to changes in lifestyle and potentially reducing opportunities for extracurricular activities, vacations, and other non-essential expenditures that enrich children’s lives.

The financial instability can also affect arrangements for child maintenance and support. With the cost of everyday essentials rising, non-custodial parents may struggle to meet agreed-upon payments, leading to legal disputes and emotional strain. Custodial parents, on the other hand, may face increased pressure to cover additional expenses, adding to their financial burden.

Increased Tensions and Mental Health

The stress associated with the cost of living crisis can exacerbate tensions between divorcing couples. Financial difficulties are a significant source of conflict in marriages, and these issues do not disappear during divorce. In fact, they often intensify, as couples negotiate the division of debts and assets under tighter financial constraints.

This heightened stress can take a toll on mental health. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues are common during divorce, and the added pressure of financial insecurity can worsen these conditions. For some, the combined stress of divorce and financial instability can lead to a sense of hopelessness and despair, affecting their ability to cope with the demands of the process.

Navigating the Crisis: Practical Advice

While the cost of living crisis presents significant challenges for divorcing couples, there are practical steps that can help manage the situation more effectively:

  1. Seek Mediation: Mediation can be a more cost-effective and less adversarial alternative to traditional divorce proceedings. Mediators can help couples reach mutually agreeable solutions, potentially reducing legal fees and emotional strain.
  2. Financial Planning: Engaging a financial advisor can help both parties understand their financial situation and plan for the future. Advisors can provide guidance on budgeting, asset division, and managing debt, which is crucial in a time of economic uncertainty.
  3. Explore Housing Options: Researching alternative housing solutions, such as shared accommodations or living with family temporarily, can alleviate some of the financial pressures. It’s important to consider all available options to ensure both parties can secure stable living arrangements.
  4. Prioritize Mental Health: Seeking support from therapists or counsellors can help manage the emotional toll of divorce and financial stress. Mental health professionals can provide coping strategies and support systems to navigate this challenging period. Importantly – look after yourself!
What is Mediation?

Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party, known as a mediator, assists divorcing couples in negotiating and reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. The mediator does not make decisions for the couple but facilitates communication and helps them explore options and solutions. Mediation can be less adversarial and more cost-effective than traditional divorce proceedings, making it a popular choice for couples seeking an amicable separation.


The cost of living crisis in the UK has undeniably added complexity to the already challenging process of divorce. Financial strain, housing issues, and the impact on children and mental health are significant concerns for divorcing couples. However, with careful planning, professional support, and a focus on practical solutions, it is possible to navigate these challenges more effectively. By understanding the unique pressures of the current economic climate, couples can make informed decisions that will help them move forward towards a more stable and hopeful future.

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