Paying for a Divorce
Posted In: Family Law   | Posted by: Arenstein & Anderson Co., LPA
Where Can I Get Money for My Divorce?
Divorces can be extremely expensive. Your lawyer will more than likely require a retainer before starting work on your matter. Some people have lots of assets, but no liquidity. Some have little to no income or a spouse that has control of the finances. No matter what the scenario, it is important to meet with experienced domestic counsel to carefully review your circumstances and to advise you on the best course of action.
Make the Most of Your Initial Consultation
A majority of lawyers do initial consultations for free. Make the most of this initial meeting by being prepared with detailed financial information for both you and your spouse, including: account balances, real estate holdings, monthly expenses, wages, and any other sources of income. This will allow your attorney to advise you on the best source of your retainer funds and will assist your attorney in making the decision on whether a divorce or dissolution, with an eye on attorney fees, makes the most sense for your situation. Complete disclosure at this initial meeting will also help you lawyer determine whether temporary orders for support or fees might be available.
Sources of Retainer Funds
One option is to borrow the money for your retainer from a friend or family member. The benefit of this option is that it can normally be done without your spouse’s knowledge. If you and your attorney determine that you should borrow funds from a friend or family member you should make sure that you document the loan.
Another option is to borrow money against an asset (e.g. real property, retirement account, life insurance policy). This option may prove to be trickier, especially if the asset is jointly owned with your spouse. Again, meeting with an experienced domestic attorney to weigh the risks of this decision is imperative.
Running Out of Retainer Funds
Oftentimes the legal fees in a divorce will exceed the retainer amount provided at the beginning of the case. This can be due to many different factors, including: complexity of the case, a stubborn spouse, fee-hungry attorneys on the other side, unfavorable court rulings, and other unpredictable events. Additionally, as is the case in many divorces, assets that may have been available prior to filing are subject to court orders prohibiting their liquidation or encumbrance. Having a plan in place prior to filing for divorce is imperative to avoid this issue from becoming a hindrance to achieving your ultimate goal and to avoiding potential nonpayment issues with your attorney.
One solution is to request a temporary order for interim attorneys fees. These interim fees are typically only allowed in the case of an “economically disadvantaged” spouse. Discussing this option with your attorney prior to filing for divorce is essential to avoiding a payment issue down the road.
Another solution is to borrow the money from a friend or family member. This is not an ideal solution, but may be the only option available if assets are subject to court orders and cash flow is not sufficient to pay your attorney. As before, do not forget to document any loan.
The Bottom Line
Be open and honest with your attorney from the initial consultation through the finalization of your divorce. This not only applies to the payment of attorneys fees, but any and all matters relating to your divorce. Keeping an open line of communication with your legal counsel will help make a difficult time in your life more manageable.
About Arenstein & Andersen Co., LPA
Arenstein & Andersen Co., LPA is a Dublin, Ohio law firm that provides comprehensive representation in all areas of domestic law including: divorces, dissolutions, annulments, shared parenting plans, and post-decree matters such as child support, alimony, and visitation modifications.