Who pays for the divorce?
Contested divorces can cost ten’s of thousands of dollars. Many couples run into financial problems, financing this fight. Simple, uncontested divorce – can cost a trivial few thousands dollars. Unfortunately, contested divorces require court appearances, and tons of back and forth with your attorneys. Spouses can easily spend thousands per court hearing. When you start factoring in other peripheral experts, like forensic accounts – the cost of a divorce can be huge.
In most states, each spouse is responsible for paying his/her legal fees and costs in a divorce. If one spouse earns considerably more than the other, then you have to subsidize the cost of the attorney for the other spouse. Many states order the wealthier spouse to pay the other spouse’s attorney fees and litigation expenses. In other situations, a judge may order you to liquidate some of your assets in order to pay the legal fees until the divorce is final.
Courts generally don’t order one spouse to pay the other spouse’s legal fees if there was a “fault” or “misconduct,” which led to the divorce. For example, if one spouse commits adultery – and you file for a divorce on this ground — the judge probably won’t force you to pay for your spouse’s attorneys fees. If a spouse drags on a litigation by filing unnecessary motions, or refuses to cooperate, the court may order that spouse to pay legal fees of the other spouse in order to compensate for this. In some cases, your spouse may not pay for the entire divorce, but may pay for a part of it.
If the court rejects your request for help, then you have a few options. You might be able to cash in retirement accounts, since it’s considered marital property in most states. You could liquidate assets you and your spouse own jointly. If you tell your spouse you’re going to do this, then you may be able to force him into helping you pay for your legal costs. The court will generally deduct this money from your share of the final property/marital estate agreement when the divorce is final. It’s better to borrow from your family, take out a loan, or figure out some other form of funding.
Another route to go, is getting a lawsuit funding loan. In this day and age, lawsuit loans are huge. Many lawyers ask private investors to fund your divorce – in exchange for a portion of the assets you get when the litigation has ended. Occasionally, a divorce attorney may be willing to take his fees from the final assets you get. This isn’t normal – but it could be done. Alternatively, you can setup a payment plan with your lawyer.