Divorces are expensive, even if it is completely uncomplicated. Lawyers and court fees add up, especially if your partner is being unreasonable. You may be halfway through your divorce, but suddenly can’t afford your divorce lawyer anymore.
It’s a common problem that people can’t afford a divorce lawyer even though they really need one. It’s even harder to predict how much your divorce will cost, as anything can happen unexpectedly. The average cost of a divorce can vary depending on:
- How you get divorced or separated
- Which legal professional you decide to work with
- Your state or county
- Different variables and assets like property and children
- The amount of tension and collaboration between you and your partner
There’s always the option to try and do your divorce on your own without legal representation, but if you have other variables or your partner is hostile, that may not be an option.
Most lawyers charge a retainer of $3,500 to $10,000 per spouse, and this is only the first fee you will have to pay. Most people don’t have that kind of money to spare. Luckily, there are some ways you can get a divorce lawyer even if you can’t afford one.
How To Get Legal Aid for Your Divorce
Even if you can’t afford a lawyer, most lawyers will give you a free 30 minute consultation. Make sure you visit a lawyer your partner has not seen, as it’s illegal for a lawyer to meet with you if they’ve already met with the other party.
When you meet with your lawyer, explain the basic details of your separation. Your lawyer will recommend several routes such as:
- Limited scope representation
- Finding legal aid through your local courthouse or bar association
- Offering resources and programs from legal aid societies
- Taking the case to a local law school for representation
- Staying legally married, but remaining separated
There are thankfully many options available if you cannot afford a divorce lawyer, but still need representation.
Limited Scope Representation
There are lots of options available to you if you can’t afford a divorce lawyer. It always helps to get free legal advice, so even if you can’t afford to have a lawyer, you can still speak with a lawyer for free.
A lawyer won’t likely offer you free services, they may offer you discounted services such as:
- Reduced hourly fee
- Limited scope retainer
- Unbundled services
- Legal advice
Lawyers who offer “unbundled services” or “limited scope retainer” services will help you with only a specific part of your case. This is helpful for divorces with not as many variables like kids or property and debt. Your lawyer would make sure all your paperwork is done correctly, and you get everything you’re entitled to.
Having a limited scope will give you a reduced rate, and is completely manageable if you do not go to court. Your lawyer can help you with some of the following:
- Legal advice
- Document preparation
- Coaching or mentorship with your case
Separation Without Divorce
There are two types of separation: simple separation and legal separation.
For a simple separation, there is no legal intervention. If you have no other variables like children, debt, property, or anything of value, then it’s probably your easiest route.
Although you can walk away from the marriage as painlessly as possible, you’re still legally married. There are still obligations you’ll need to fulfill. Depending on where you live, this may not be the most viable option, even if you and your partner are on the same page.
Legal separation still requires you to file documentation with a court, but there’s still a legal separation agreement which can cover:
- Custody issues
- Child support
- Alimony or spousal support
- Property and debt allocation
This route allows both parties to actively control their spousal rights and obligations without having to go to court.
Your separation agreement must pass legal muster, so you will need the help of a lawyer. But, even if you can’t afford to get fully divorced, your lawyer will only have to help you draft the separation agreement. This way, you’re still receiving everything you’re entitled to, but you will not have to get fully divorced.
Legal Aid and Pro Bono Services
The best way to find legal aid or free representation is by going to your local courthouse or contacting the American bar association. Here, you’ll find various programs for people looking to get divorced, but may not be able to afford it.
If you’re a victim of domestic violence and abuse, this is also where you’ll be able to safely find all the resources you need to leave your partner.
At your nearest courthouse, see if you can find whoever is in charge of administration. Some courts may offer free assistance to people with extenuating circumstances. Your local courthouse or bar association will have resources to help you find:
- Lawyers with free consultations
- Legal aid societies
- Programs for low-income individuals needing a divorce
- Resources for victims of domestic abuse
Even if your local courthouse can’t help you find legal representation, you can still have some of your questions answered.
Get Legal Help
My Case Helper works with qualified professionals and knowledgeable lawyers who can help you find legal solutions. You can get free legal advice today by calling (844) 980-1574 to speak to a family lawyer today.