How do you pay for a divorce lawyer if you don’t have the financial means to afford it? This is an issue that can be difficult to navigate, particularly if your ex-spouse was the one who financially supported the family.
For most, a marriage begins happily with similar goals and dreams. Unfortunately for some, these goals and objectives begin to diverge, and these marriages end in divorce. In many situations, a dissolution proceeds amicably with both parties reaching a satisfactory agreement. However, many divorces become complicated and acrimonious. When this occurs, dissolution proceedings drag on quickly, with parties fighting over various aspects of the marriage and subsequently increasing costs. While nobody plans for divorce, divorce’s reality represents a life-changing transition that holds significant financial consequences. When facing a divorce, there are creative ways to pay for a divorce attorney with no money.
Here Are Tips on How to Pay for a Divorce Lawyer With No Money
For some parties, mediation may be an option to consider for settling your divorce. Mediation permits parties to work out their differences concerning finances and property division without litigation’s financial burden. Mediation costs parties considerably less than litigating a divorce in court. Additionally, mediation permits parties to work out their issues with a qualified mediator. Mediators aid parties to seek common ground so they may reach a solution. Mediation works only in situations where both parties agree to mediate.
File for Attorney Fees
You may ask the court to order your spouse to pay your attorney fees in some situations. While many courts do not require attorney fees to be paid by one spouse, the court may step in and award attorney fees to a spouse in certain situations. In these situations, the spouse seeking attorney fees bears the burden of proof to show they cannot pay their attorney.
Task-Based Billing or Bundling
In some situations, you may agree with an attorney to proceed on a bundling or task-based billed basis. Bundled legal services permit a client to pay an attorney for only certain legal services. For example, you may wish to hire an attorney to negotiate and settle child custody and visitation issues. You can save money on legal services by choosing what legal services you pay for in these situations.
Flat fees are similar to bundling legal services. The attorney and client agree on a flat fee for particular services and the client pays the attorney only the flat fee. Flat fees enjoy popularity in simple divorces where the parties can reach solutions outside of court.
Withdraw Funds from Retirement Accounts
Most states have ATROs, or automatic temporary restraining orders that preclude parties from disposing of assets subject to divorce. However, most states permit a party to withdraw from 401ks or retirement accounts to fund a divorce. In states where applicable, ATROs prohibit the following:
- Selling, transferring, or borrowing against property;
- Borrowing or selling insurance held for the other spouse;
- Modifying beneficiaries on retirement accounts and life insurance accounts;
- Changing bank accounts; or
- Destroying or hiding assets.
The purpose of ATROs is to prevent one spouse from changing the financial status of marriage before a divorce. Paying reasonable attorney fees with marital assets typically does not violate your ATRO.
Take Out a Loan
You may seek out the assistance of friends or family to request a loan of funds needed to pay for your divorce lawyer. Agreements specify the payback schedule of any fees. In certain situations, this may be a great option as parties may agree on a favorable interest rate for the payback of the loan. Additionally, obtaining a loan through friends and family does not affect your credit score.
While not always advisable, depending on your situation, you may apply for a new credit card and use the card to pay your divorce lawyer. Divorce proceedings get expensive quickly, especially in contested dissolutions. Therefore, it’s best to review your financial situation to determine whether incurring more debt is the best option for you moving forward. For example, if you expect to receive significant assets from your marriage, you may consider this option to pay off your debts after your divorce is final.
If feasible, taking on a second job or additional seasonal work may help pay for legal expenses. Many businesses may hire individuals looking for second jobs. Additionally, obtaining work for a rideshare company often proves lucrative in specific locations. One enjoys the freedom to work when time permits.
Pro Bono Attorney
You may consider seeking the assistance of a pro bono attorney. A pro bono attorney is a licensed attorney volunteering to work for free. Pro bono services provide legal aid to marginalized individuals unable to afford legal representation.
Additionally, some lawyers may decide to take a case pro bono despite typically charging for legal services. To locate a pro bono attorney, contact a legal aid organization. Legal aid organizations exist in all states. If you do not live in a particular county, you may locate an attorney outside the county willing to accept the case.
All states provide disadvantaged individuals with the option to file for divorce with a fee waiver procedure. A fee waiver procedure permits you to file for divorce and ask the court to waive all court fees associated with divorce. To obtain a fee waiver, the court requires proof of your financial status, such as proof of income and any debts and liabilities.
Know Your Options
A divorce represents a stressful, life-changing event further complicated by the financial burden it may cause for the parties involved. Seek a qualified divorce attorney’s assistance to protect your rights. An attorney supports you to prevent avoidable mistakes that may cost you dearly upon the conclusion of your divorce. While expenses associated with a divorce can rise quickly, there are options available to those who need to pay for a divorce lawyer with no money.
Kamyar Moeinzadeh is a member of the Governing Body of Vantage Group Legal Services. As In-house Counsel, he is responsible for the entirety of Vantage Group’s Legal Network and focuses his efforts on providing new and innovative solutions to providing excellent legal services to the public at an affordable rate. www.vantagegl.com