It's no secret that it's a good idea to have your own legal counsel during a divorce, especially if child custody is at stake. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to afford the legal costs, especially if your former spouse had been the family's primary breadwinner. The following guide can help you figure out an affordable option for the representation that you need and deserve.
#1: Consider your assets
If you have personal assets that aren't considered part of the marital estate, you can liquidate these to come up with the cash necessary for the divorce. In some cases, you may not even need to sell these assets. Talk with your bank or credit union to see if they can provide you with a personal loan using the asset as collateral. Having the ability to offer collateral can help you qualify for a loan, even if your income is insufficient. This is especially true if your credit is otherwise in good standing.
#2: Seek legal aid
Depending on your income, or lack there of, you may qualify for legal aid. This is no- or low-cost representation that is available in some cities or counties. Contact the courthouse as soon as you know that you will be going through a divorce to apply for this program. They will refer you to the proper organization. You must apply as far in advance as possible, as legal aid is typically first come, first serve, so you want to make sure there is a lawyer available to assist you by your court date.
#3: Find out if your spouse is responsible
In some cases, the court may decide that the other spouse is responsible for your legal fees. This varies by state or municipality, so it is vital that you check your local family laws on this requirement. For example, in some areas there are need-based payment requirements. This basically asserts that if one spouse is financially able to pay both sets of legal fees and the other spouse is being left bereft of payment options due to the divorce, then the financially stable spouse is responsible for all fees for both parties. You will need to consult with an attorney to see if this is an option for your case and in your location, which will require paying the retainer for the attorney at a minimum. If your ex-spouse is found to be responsible, then they will likely be required to reimburse the retainer fee to you.
Contact a family law attorney like one from Kleveland Law in your area to inquire about more payment options so that you can get the representation you need.