What options do I have if I don’t have the money for a lawyer?
Sometimes no matter how badly you need a lawyer, you simply can’t afford one. The good news is that there are alternative options. The not-so-good news is that they can be difficult to come by.
Often, the point of hiring a lawyer is to avoid having to pay money to someone like an ex-spouse or another type of adversary. However, it will first cost you money to avoid having to pay even more money. While a lawyer can help you protect your money and other assets, what happens if you can’t afford the lawyer to begin with?
Read on to learn about your options if you need a lawyer but are having trouble affording one.
Criminal vs. Civil Cases
In a criminal case, the court will provide you with a lawyer if you’re unable to afford one. In civil cases, though, you may be on your own – the court won’t necessarily appoint you a lawyer if you’re not able to afford one yourself.
Contact a Legal Aid Society
These nonprofits can be found throughout the country. They offer legal services to people who fall beneath a certain income threshold. Some people have trouble getting help from a legal aid society because they make too much money, but if you have a low income, it’s worth reaching out to them. Note that even if you have a low income, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee a legal aid society will be able to help you. Contact your nearest one to find out about all of their guidelines.
Contact a Law School
By getting in touch with a law school, you may be able to contact a reliable law student who can offer you some free legal advice. You may even find one to represent you, because law students are usually certified to practice under a member of the faculty, so long as the faculty member is a practicing attorney. Some law schools work primarily with people who earn low income, while others may be willing to take your case no matter what your income level is.
Get in Touch With the Bar Association
By contacting the bar association in your state or county, you can find out if there are any lawyers or firms who are looking for pro bono work. If you can’t get legal services for free, the bar association may at least be able to tell you which firms or lawyers are offering their services at reduced rates.
Negotiate With an Attorney
You may be surprised at how willing an attorney is to work with you when it comes to their rate. You could learn that the fee isn’t nearly as high as you expected and that you can afford it after all. You may find an attorney who is willing to give you a discount if you simply ask for one. You may also be able to get the fee capped so that you know you won’t be charged extra fees once the case is over. Some attorneys will also work out a contingency agreement with you, which means they’ll get paid if your case is won, but if you lose your case, you won’t owe the attorney anything.
The best possible scenario is to hire a lawyer, but if you’re simply unable to, it is helpful to know that you have a few other options to explore.
How can I get divorced if he controls all the money?
Divorce is almost always an emotional, messy situation. When large amounts of property or children are involved, it can be downright excruciating. However, many couples find a time where there has been too much damage to the marriage, and it is time to walk away. Many women find themselves stuck, however, when they realize they cannot afford a Queens county divorce attorney because their husband controls their finances. Here is what you can do to break free from your toxic marriage when your husband controls all of your money.
1. Ask them to pay attorney fees
During the divorce proceedings, you can ask the judge to force your husband to pay your attorney fees should you not be able to afford it. This isn’t uncommon and is a good first route to go about taking care of your attorney fees. In many cases, the judge will order your husband to pay the attorneys retainer or at least part of it, depending on your situation. It is important to talk to a legal representative about this method.
2. Alimony and Child Support
By filing for emergency spousal and child support, you can use funds to help pay for your attorney and get the divorce proceedings rolling and out of the way. This isn’t the most ideal way to pay for your attorney, but it is an option. After you leave your husband, you are still entitled to alimony and he is still required to pay for his children. Often times people who are financially abusive will try to get out of this, and it can be easy to lay flat to avoid the argument. However, this is not the time to do that and using these methods are a good way to get your attorney paid for without going into debt.
3. Credit cards
This is another last resort option, but paying for your attorney on a credit card is an option if you really need to get your divorce moving along. It may be best to start the process out using a credit card and then employ one of the other methods listed here in order to continue your divorce. While going into debt isn’t a great idea during this high stress time, it can be paid off down the road when you are finally divorced.
4. Maintaining the financial status quo
In some cases, a judge may order your husband to maintain the financial status quo, blocking him from being able to financially abuse you any further. In this situation, he would be required to deposit checks into your bank account to be used as you so choose. This is a great way to be able to pay for your attorney and not have to worry about mountain debt.
If you and your husband are on a joint bank account, simply because he manages the budget doesn’t mean that you don’t have legal access to the account. Before a judge places a temporary restraining order on the account (if this happens) if is best to pull some money out and place it aside to pay your attorney’s retainer and have some leftover for living expenses.
For those who are walking away from their marriage where their spouse controls the money, there is hope and there are ways to break free from your toxic marriage. Consult with an attorney today about your options to pay for your attorney today.