NYC Free Divorce Lawyers
There are many difficult issues involved in getting a divorce, and one of the most common is wondering how you’ll pay for a lawyer to represent you during the process. This type of situation most often arises when one spouse makes more money than the other or is the sole breadwinner of the family.
Fortunately, you do have some options. Divorce lawyers are aware that some clients have little or no money of their own, and many will work with you to come up with a feasible option to handle your divorce. The most important thing to keep in mind when talking to a divorce attorney is to be honest and upfront about your financial situation, to prevent further problems down the road.
How much will your divorce cost?
The first step in determining your options for paying for a divorce is to figure out approximately what the costs will be. There are several factors that determine the cost of a divorce, which can include:
Whether your divorce is uncontested — which means that both spouses agree to all terms of a divorce. Terms of agreement usually include the areas of division of property, alimony, child custody, and child support. Uncontested divorces are typically the lowest in overall legal costs.
If the divorce is contested, the types of issues that need to be resolved are a factor in determining the total cost of the divorce. Some contested issues can be more easily resolved than others.
Divorce costs can change according to the area where you live. The cost of filing for divorce varies in different areas, and there may be fees if there are court requirements such as parenting classes or mandatory mediation. Additionally, average legal fees can be higher or lower depending on the cost of living in your area.
Talking to your divorce lawyer about the potential costs of your particular divorce will help you decide which options you may have to pay for your divorce.
Common divorce payment options
Most divorce lawyers offer a number of different payment options to help clients who are concerned about being able to afford a divorce. Here are some of the choices your divorce attorney may be able to offer you.
Flat fee billing: This option is a single, negotiated flat fee that covers the entire divorce proceedings, rather than breaking the costs into billable hours. Keep in mind that most attorneys will only offer the flat fee option for simple, uncontested divorces. If unexpected problems arise during the proceedings, you may have to pay additional fees.
Task-based billing: For simple divorces with few issues and straightforward processes, you may be able to work with a divorce attorney on a per-task basis. In this situation, your lawyer would advise you to handle portions of the divorce on your own, such as negotiating an agreement with your spouse and then having your lawyer review the agreement, rather than paying for attorney mediation.
Budget-based billing: Your attorney may be able to work with you to set up a budget for the divorce proceedings that falls within your financial means, particularly if both spouses are limited financially. In this case, both attorney and client would have to agree to stick to the budget plans.
Having your spouse pay your legal fees
In cases where one spouse earns significantly more than the other or is the sole breadwinner of the family, you may be able to have your spouse pay some of your legal expenses. Depending on your particular situation, you can ask your spouse to pay for legal fees and costs. If your spouse is uncooperative, you can request that your divorce attorney sue your spouse for legal fees or request that the judge order your spouse to pay.
Handling a divorce yourself
If you’re facing a simple, uncontested divorce, you may be able to file for divorce yourself. The process is fairly straightforward, although there are typically some court fees involved in the filing. You can typically find the forms you’ll need on your state’s court website, or by visiting your local county clerk’s office.
However, for complicated or contested divorces, attempting to self-file for divorce and representing yourself in court is inadvisable. Difficult divorces are highly emotional experiences, and having an attorney on your side during this time can save you from making costly mistakes.
Often, family law courts will offer a self-service divorce center that includes resources such as booklets and instruction manuals for people who are filing for divorce without a lawyer. You may be able to ask a local attorney to answer questions and help you fill out forms without charge, if your financial situation is desperate.
You can also contact your local bar association, and they may be able to refer you to either low-cost or free legal programs in your area for assistance with your divorce