If I Have No Funds In My Name, How Do I Pay For My Divorce?

By Published On: March 24, 2015

Sometimes, a person who is unhappy in their marriage feels trapped because they don’t have the money to pay for a lawyer.  Here are several options for you to consider to access funds for advice from a qualified family law attorney so you can best determine how to move forward in your life.

If you are on the title to a joint account with your spouse, it is generally acceptable to remove half of the funds in the joint account to place into a separate account for yourself.  These marital funds may then be used to pay your attorneys’ fees.

Similarly, if you have access to a credit card or a home equity line of credit, you can draw down on your available credit in order to consult an attorney.  The courts in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia handle marital debt differently, so you will want to talk through this issue carefully, but the issue of marital debt can be addressed in the settlement process or litigation with your spouse.   If you currently do not have a credit card, explore the possibility of applying for a new credit card in your sole name which you can then use to pay your fees.

It is not uncommon for separating individuals to borrow money from family or friends.  Although you may not normally request financial help from family or friends, doing so in order to get guidance during this uncertain and difficult time may feel different to you.  If you document the loan through a simple promissory note, payoff of this debt can be considered in a settlement or in the final disposition of all issues resulting from your marriage.

Valuable personal property that belongs to you such as your engagement ring can be sold in order to access funds.  While it may be difficult to part with something that not only has monetary value but holds sentimental value, this might be necessary so that you can ensure your best possible future.

If you engage the services of a family law attorney, another option may be for that person to write to your spouse or to your spouse’s attorney to request funds to enable you to move forward with the process of negotiating a settlement of the issues in your marriage.

Finally, in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, there are statutory remedies available that enable you to ask the court to award you suit money from your spouse to enable you to pursue litigation, whether dealing with custody, alimony, child support, or the division of marital property.

Talk through these options with your attorney to be sure that all of the ramifications of your course of action have been carefully considered.