If you’re seeking a divorce, or just absolutely need one, but you don’t have much money, then you might be curious about how you can possibly pay for your divorce lawyer. It’s, unfortunately, an issue many individuals face when possibly getting a divorce.
When you meet up with prospective attorneys that might handle your divorce, you need to be honest and open about your fiscal circumstances and financial situation. Divorce attorneys in Columbus Ohio often handle clients with little to no money that could be used to pay for a divorce. In a lot of marriages, one spouse made more money than the other, and in some cases, one spouse didn’t make any, meaning they have no money to call their own.
How much does it cost for a divorce lawyer? The costs involved in a divorce are going to vary on a number of different factors. Whether or not your divorce is contested or uncontested is one such factor, as an uncontested divorce is usually going to be simpler, cleaner, quicker, and therefore cheaper. If your spouse and you are personally able to reach a number of basic agreements regarding alimony, support, child custody, and property division, then things are going to go smoother. If you’re not able to reach such agreements regarding your divorce, then you should list out the specific issues needing resolution.
Where you live matters a lot too. A region with high costs of living might mean legal fees running into the hundreds per hour, whereas areas with lower costs of living might see far lower standard market rates for divorce lawyers. Another locally-contingent factor is how much it costs for filing for divorce where you live. There might also be fees for mandatory parenting classes or mediation. Before you hire a divorce lawyer, you should ask about what they estimate the total cost would be for filing for divorce. That would include legal fees, filing costs, and other expenses you might not know about. If you’re concerned about having the ability to pay your way, consult your divorce lawyer about potential options.
Flat-fee billing is one potential choice. If your divorce situation is generally straightforward and simple in nature, you might be able to find an attorney that is willing to represent you under this arrangement. You should understand though that most attorneys only typically offer flat-fee billing if you’re filing specifically for an uncontested divorce. Should any unexpected problems you didn’t anticipate arise, then you’re going to likely incur additional fees.
Task-based billing is another way you might go about paying for your simple divorce on the cheap. In this arrangement, your lawyer might actually tell you to take care of specific portions of your divorce on your own. For instance, you can possibly negotiation your primary divorce agreement on a personal level with your current spouse, free of the assistance or supervision of any attorneys. Then, you’d pay your divorce lawyer for a review of the agreement so he or she could point out any prospective issues or potential complications. You can possibly reduce your overall legal fees by hiring an attorney for only the pieces of the divorce you truly need one for.
You might even be able to request that your spouse be the one to pay your own legal fees. If you’re in a case where your spouse has a lot more money than you do, request that he or she pay for either all or at least some of your legal costs and fees. If your spouse doesn’t agree to this request voluntarily, ask the judge presiding over your divorce case to rule in your favor and order the spouse to pay up.
Setting a budget is always a good idea in any monetary situation, but especially this one. If your spouse is on a tight budget, just like you, then shifting some of the legal fees onto his or her shoulders might not be possible. If that’s true, work alongside your attorney to establish a budget regarding your legal fees and costs, and then stick to it the best you possibly can. That might mean practicing some self-restraint. For instance, you’re not going to be able to pick up your phone each time a question for your lawyer rolls through your mind. At the same time, your attorney has to develop a specific legal strategy that is effective yet within your means to afford it.
Use any DIY resources available to you. Divorce is different from crime, where you would have representation appointed to you if you’re charged with a crime but can’t afford an attorney. That’s because divorce is a civil matter, so the court’s not going to appoint you a free attorney. On the other hand, a great number of family law courts might have self-service divorce centers with numerous resources available to those divorcing without a lawyer. In some cases, a local lawyer might volunteer to sit down and answer questions or even help you fill out forms. You might even get lucky enough to have someone pick up your case pro bono, although that’s rare for many divorces. In the end, you might be stuck with just instruction manuals and booklets.
You might even want to consider telling your story or side of things online and running a fundraiser to gather donations towards a divorce attorney. Just realize that this is going to demonize and antagonize your spouse and possibly make proceedings difficult. You might roll your eyes at some GoFundMe pages or requests you hear about or see on Facebook, but if your situation is serious enough, you might get some help.
Divorce is a time of life filled with a lot of anxiety. You’re in the middle of a significant life change and having to worry about paying for your divorce will only add to your many worries. Above everything else, be upfront and honest about your financial situation, not just with your lawyer, but also yourself. Know what you’re able to pay for, and your attorney can then realistically layout good expectations for your divorce.