My divorce cost me $17,695 - these were the most surprising expenses I faced

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Moving out, securing a new apartment, and buying basic necessities cost more than $3,000

Moving out, securing a new apartment, and buying basic necessities cost more than $3,000

The first financial decision I had to make was moving out of our shared apartment and getting my own place, since we needed to be separated for six months prior to filing.

I found an apartment north of Atlanta and within commutable distance of my job that was safe and met what I thought my budget was. Looking back, I should have spoken with a financial counselor and established a better budget before taking this step, but being young and having never had to make my own financial decisions until now, I thought I knew what I was doing.

Rent was $990 a month, and the apartment required a down payment equal to a month of rent to move in. Since I had no savings, I had to pay in multiple installments in order to equal the down payment required, which I split over two paychecks.

Being young and poor, I didn't have many possessions. My family offered to come help me move what little I did have, so I didn't need to pay for a U-Haul or moving truck.

I then needed to buy the basic necessities — cooking utensils, pots and pans, a bed, toilet paper, towels, and so on. My mattress was $600, and I found an Ikea bed frame on Craigslist for $100. I would estimate that the remaining necessities cost me around $500, since I wasn't buying anything fancy and tried to get things on sale where possible.

For furniture, I purchased things at Rooms To Go. The total that I spent on a coffee table, side tables, a large shelf, and a couch was $1,250.

Those expenses alone totaled $3,440.

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Refinancing my car loan cost me an extra $6,480.

Refinancing my car loan cost me an extra $6,480.

When you're newlyweds, you want to do everything together. Unfortunately, we did that when purchasing my new car.

Since his name was on the title, I had to refinance the car loan and chose to do so through the United States Automobile Association. The steps involved were complicated and required getting the money, paying off the original loan with my husband's name, and then having him sign the title over to me before giving the title to USAA for the second loan.

It meant that my car was not going to be paid off for an additional year (five years from refinancing, which was a year after the initial purchase, totaling six years of payments). It also meant my monthly payment increased from $290 a month for 60 months to $340 a month for 60 months because with my credit, I was unable to get as low of a rate as I had had with the first auto loan. This additional year of payments and the additional $50 a month ended up costing me an extra $3,000 in payments, plus the $3,480 I had already made in payments before refinancing.

That brought the total cost for this expense to $6,480, not including the additional amount of money I spent on interest.

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Getting my own car insurance — and paying a higher price since the policy was no longer shared

Getting my own car insurance — and paying a higher price since the policy was no longer shared

After refinancing with USAA, I chose to go with them for my auto insurance as well.

I went from paying $80 a month on a shared policy to $120 a month on a policy of my own since I was no longer married. I won't include this in the overall cost of my divorce, but it is worth mentioning since it is an added cost that I hadn't anticipated.

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Separating our phone plan cost $350

Separating our phone plan cost $350

We had combined our phone plans in order to reduce the cost we each were paying monthly.

While AT&T had great coverage, due to personal reasons I chose to switch to Verizon. In order to carry over my same phone number, I had to pay off what I still owed on my phone plan (the monthly payments for the iPhone I so desperately had thought I needed at the time).

I still owed around $350 on the phone, and I had to make that payment plus get my husband to sign off on my taking the same number with me and leaving AT&T since he was the authorized account user and I was not. I could have just gotten a new phone number, but that would have left my husband with the cost of the iPhone plus the additional line that he wouldn't be using, so I chose to pay it off early and not leave him with that bill.

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I had to take out a loan for $6,000 to pay off my husband's title loan that I had cosigned

I had to take out a loan for $6,000 to pay off my husband's title loan that I had cosigned

An additional thing that I had not anticipated before deciding to file for divorce was the title loan that he had taken out on his truck in order to make ends meet before he was able to find a full-time job.

I had cosigned on the loan with him to help with his interest rate, and now the lending agency considered it a debt on both my part and his, even though it wasn't my truck. The loan amount was for $6,000.

I was unable to get a commitment from him on meeting me halfway on the cost, and since the loan was for a few more years, I didn't want to wait that long before being able to file for divorce. I took out a personal loan to cover the remaining debt on the title loan so that I could speed up the process and get divorced as quickly as possible. He ended up with his title loan being paid off, and I shouldered the debt on that, but I was desperate to get out of the marriage.

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It cost $225 in my state to pay for the actual divorce

It cost $225 in my state to pay for the actual divorce

The cost for actually filing for divorce in Georgia, including court fees, was about $225. This was for an uncontested divorce where neither of us had hired attorneys.

We met at the courthouse, sat down with the legal personnel, and went over the split finances and reason for filing. I paid for the filing costs and court fees because my husband did not want the divorce and refused to help ease the transition and quicken the filing process.

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And I spent another $1,200 on therapy after the divorce

And I spent another $1,200 on therapy after the divorce

It took a year from telling my husband I wanted a divorce to the time the divorce was finalized.

That was 12 months of continuously realizing how financially intertwined our lives had become, and slowly paying things off as I became able to.

I was not able to save any money during this period, and as my husband did not want to divorce, he refused to level with me on any and every obstacle I encountered. The guilt I felt for leaving him, the embarrassment at explaining to others what was going on, the financial strain from having to separate everything myself, and stress that I endured resulted in panic attacks, anxiety, and waking up in cold sweats that began in November of 2014 and continued for two years.

I went to therapy to address these issues and was told I had PTSD from the way I had been treated during my marriage. For the period of time where I sought counseling and therapy, I paid $120 a session. We met weekly, and then biweekly, before I finally reached a place where I felt comfortable and my anxiety was manageable. My insurance did not cover the full cost of counseling, and I was left with a bill of $1,200.

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The grand total for my divorce? $17,625

The grand total for my divorce? $17,625

Ultimately, some of my financial decisions were uneducated and poorly made, and some of them I was forced to make in order to get divorced and into a healthier and safer environment more quickly.

Looking back, I would suggest for someone looking at filing for divorce to speak with a financial counselor and make sure that their budget, disposable income, and potential roadblocks are all clearly discussed and considered before trying to move forward. It helps to lay everything out on the table and have that big picture view of what debts are shared and what will need to be taken care of in a timely manner.

We were lucky in that we did not have kids and also did not have a shared bank account, so we didn't have to consider how to split assets.

While I am now happy and healthy and on a secure financial path, starting out my 20s with such huge costs and taking on a large amount of debt on top of what I already owed in student loans set me up for a rough transition to young adulthood and set me back in terms of financial health and progress.

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