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What If I Can’t Afford To Pay My Divorce Lawyer Up Front?

December 4, 2018 Our Blog

What If I Can’t Afford To Pay My Divorce Lawyer Up Front?

If you can’t afford to pay your lawyer upfront, you are not out of luck. It’s true that many attorneys charge by the hour or require a retainer fee. Many people struggle to come up with the funds they need for different types of legal fees. This is especially true when you’re going through a difficult divorce. Fortunately, you have options to consider if you can’t afford upfront payments.

Make Sure To Speak With Multiple Lawyers

You don’t have to settle for the first attorney you speak with. Divorce and family law lawyers all provide the same services. However, the rates you pay will vary with each attorney. Different law firms may use a variety of payment systems, too.

Feeling pressured to choose a lawyer quickly is common. But this is a major decision that impacts your entire life. And when your finances are tight, you need to carefully weigh your options. It’s perfectly fine to consult with a few divorce attorneys. You may find one suits you much better than the others.

Consider Working With A Law Student

Law school students that have passed the state bar exam are often eager to find work. Some law students can also practice law under a faculty member from their school. They need professional experience to increase their chances of getting hired by a firm. Students will often provide divorce attorney services for highly discounted rates. Some may even be willing to assist you for free.

Make sure to ask a law student a few questions before hiring him. What school did they attend, and how did they perform academically? When did they take and pass the state bar exam? What type of compensation are they seeking? These are just a few main examples. Make a list of questions you have prior to meeting law students.

Discuss Installment Fee Arrangements

The media often portrays attorneys as being tough and ruthless. But legal professionals are also compassionate, and their main goal is to help their clients win. divorce lawyers are often willing to make payment arrangements with their clients. They understand that you are going through an extremely hard time.

Payment arrangements typically consist of making installment fees. For example, you may pay a set amount per month. Or you may pay your attorney every time a milestone is reached in your case. You may be able to pay both during and after your case, too. It all depends on what a lawyer is willing to do.

Consider writing down different payment methods you can afford. Present these during consultations with divorce attorneys. Don’t get discouraged if one or two law firms aren’t willing to take installment payments. Be persistent and continue looking for legal assistance that’s compatible with your financial situation.

Communicate Honestly With Your Lawyer

Being honest is absolutely crucial if you cannot afford to pay your lawyer up front. Do not lie or omit any details about your financial situation. The truth will always come out sooner or later. The relationship between you and your attorney should be built on trust. This goes both ways, so be transparent about any money struggles.

Again, some divorce attorneys may turn you away due to your financial problems. This can certainly make you feel discouraged, but don’t let it stop you. Getting divorced without legal assistance is too risky. Keep pursuing lawyers and being truthful and open about what you can afford.

Look Into Credit Cards And Personal Loans

It’s never wise to fully rely on credit cards when you don’t have cash on hand. But credit cards and loans are options for major life events like divorces. See if you qualify for a low-interest credit card. If you’re an established member of a bank or credit union, start by inquiring there.

You can also explore the option of peer-to-peer lending. This lending option allows you to obtain a personal loan from a peer investor. In most cases, the requirements aren’t as strict as they are at banks and credit unions. And you have the opportunity to explain that you need the loan for urgent legal matters.

There’s Always A Solution When Hiring A Divorce Attorney

Overall, you have multiple options to consider if you can’t afford to pay your lawyer up front. One of the scenarios above will surely work out for you. Just make sure to discuss your financial situation thoroughly with any divorce attorney you speak to. This will ensure that you secure legal assistance during this difficult time

Why Would A Divorce Case Be Dismissed?

When a couple decides to divorce, they agree to severe their relationship legally. This requires a complicated court process, especially when children and marital property are involved. Once a petition for divorce is filed, it typically takes several months to complete. There are some instances where a divorce case could be dismissed before a judgement from the court is issued. Below are some instances in which a divorce case may be dismissed.

Withdrawal From The Petitioner

A divorce case may be dismissed if the person who filed for divorce withdraws the request. This can be done if the respondent did not answer the divorce petition. In this instance, the party asking for the divorce files a formal request to withdraw the divorce petition. If the other party in the divorce filed an answer to the original divorce petition, both parties must sign the withdrawal request at the courthouse. A voluntary dismissal can only be obtained if a judgement has not been entered in the case.


The court may move to dismiss a divorce case if no activity has been made in a certain period of time, which is typically one year from the filing date. In most states, both parties involved in a divorce must make a sincere effort to keep the case moving toward resolution. If this is not done, the court can dismiss the case. Before dismissal, the court must notify both parties involved.

Improper Filing Procedures

Couples who want to divorce must file the petition for divorce in the proper county where they reside. However, the court system places certain restrictions when it comes to jurisdiction. If the couple filing for divorce has moved from state-to-state or has lived in numerous counties in one state, they may accidentally file the petition in the wrong county. A divorce petition may also be dismissed if the couple has filed for divorce in another county or state.

When Can A Divorce Petition Not Be Dismissed?

There are certain instances in which a divorce petition cannot be withdrawn or dismissed. Once the case has made it to a certain point, it cannot be altered. Some instances in which a divorce case cannot be dismissed by the court include:

  • A Final Judgement Has Already Been Entered
  • There Is An Order For Child Support
  • A Hearing For A Protective Order Is Pending
  • A Protective Order Is Already In Place
  • An Order For Spousal Support Has Been Entered
  • A Hearing Date Has Been Set Forth In Court

Can I Refile For Divorce If My Case Was Dismissed?

The answer to this question depends on the laws in the state where you live. However, in most states you can refile a petition for divorce after having it voluntarily dismissed by paying an additional filing fee. All of the paperwork regarding the pleadings must be done again at the time of refiling. If the divorce case was dismissed with prejudice, then it cannot be refiled.

The laws regarding divorce in family court can be difficult to understand. It is often frustrating for both parties to weave their way through the legal process. If your divorce case was dismissed and you wish to refile, contact an attorney for advice. An attorney who is experienced in family law can review your case and the documents filed to determine why your case was dismissed. He can assist you in filing new documents if your case can be refiled. Hiring an attorney to help you through this trying time may lessen the stress associated with complicated family issues and help you move toward a brighter future.



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