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Making divorce easier makes it cheaper, too

A new UK law to allow ‘no-fault’ divorces will financially benefit many of the 100,000-ish married couples who split up each year.

If you thought weddings were expensive, try divorce. Just filling in the necessary form to notify the Government (and sometimes your spouse) will set you back £750. Court fees are £550 each. And that’s assuming there’s zero squabbling over how to split up stuff like your house, bank account, and kids.

The insurer Aviva reckons the average divorce costs about £14,500. The Daily Mirror says it’s more like £70,000. Either way, considering there’s about 250,000 marriages a year in the UK and 42 percent of them end in divorce, a lot of people are spending a lot of money on splitting up.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing for the economy as a whole (it’s keeping a bunch of lawyers in work) but it can cause huge financial problems for many individuals. For example, relationship breakdowns are a big cause of homelessness. In Dublin, one-third of homeless people cited it as the reason they no longer have a home.

So it's good news that divorce may be about to get a bit cheaper, with the introduction of ‘no-fault’ divorces. At the moment, you can only get a quick divorce if your partner is deemed to have done something to muck up your marriage - like cheat on you or gamble away all your money. Otherwise, you have to wait two to five years.

That gives people an incentive to list all their spouse's bad behaviour, which tends to piss said spouse off, with the end results that divorce proceedings often drag on much longer than they would otherwise do as two furious people engage in a bitter and expensive court fight over who gets to keep the pool table. Dialing down some of this anger could benefit everyone. Except the lawyers, perhaps.

Read our explainer on: what money does.

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