What if I can’t afford a divorce attorney?
THREE OPTIONS WHEN YOU CAN’T AFFORD A DIVORCE LAWYER
- ASK THE COURT TO REQUIRE YOUR SPOUSE TO PAY (read below for more details)
- RETAIN A VOLUNTEER ATTORNEY (Tallahassee Bar Association can make a referral to a pro bono divorce lawyer)
- NEGOTIATE A SETTLEMENT WITHOUT A LAWYER (Florida has pre-approved forms and directions available online)
You’ve heard the horror stories and read the articles about prices, and now you find yourself in this very predicament. How can you possibly afford a divorce attorney?
In Florida, the Court will look at your situation and compare it to your spouse’s. The goal of this is to give both you and your spouse equivalent standing when you argue your cases. Your lack of attorney compared to your spouse’s paid attorney is cause for concern. If your spouse is more financially secure and better able to afford an attorney, Florida law states that the Court can determine that your spouse be responsible for your attorney fees as well as his or her own.
If this is the case, your acquired attorney can tell the judge his or her expected costs for working your case, and the judge can award these (reasonable) costs. A judge can also award these costs at the end of your case. In the case that your attorney fees are needed early, you can file a Motion for Temporary Relief. In short, if you don’t have money to hire an attorney, but your spouse does, the Court may require your spouse to pay your attorney’s fees. So you pay nothing or very little up front. Often we will take a case when someone needs a Tallahassee divorce lawyer on a reduced retainer and seek to recover the remainder of attorney’s fees owed from a spouse who has a greater ability to pay.
Don’t underestimate the importance of good legal representation. Matt Liebenhaut, a Tallahassee divorce attorney can work with you and make your divorce as comfortable as possible.