One of the basic issues for someone needing an attorney is how to pay for one. For some people, it's not really a concern. For others, it may seem insurmountable. Keep in mind that courts don't appoint attorneys to represent parties in divorces and most family law cases. If you want a pro bono attorney, you pretty much have to meet very strict guidelines on income and assets and then find a Legal Aid office or clinic that can take you on. Legal Aid is normally overextended and underfunded. They do great work with limited resources, but they can't help very many. That means you are probably on your own. You should probably assume that you won't get a free lawyer.
As you may know, attorneys charge different rates, retainers and total fees. Some charge flat fees, but most charge hourly. You should check around to find a financial arrangement that is affordable for you. The more experienced attorneys charge more, but even a less-experienced attorney is usually a valuable help for you.
Where to find the money: Attorneys know that the following are some potential sources of funds to pay attorney's fees:
- Cash, from a stash. Some people do keep a private sum of cash hidden for a rainy day. Divorces qualify as a rainy day, so that cash can be put to good use, if there is any cash.
- Money from a joint account. Unless there is a court order prohibiting removing money for attorney's fees, joint accounts may fund you to get started.
- Assets that can be sold. Be careful about selling things. Your attorney can tell you whether it is a good idea in your case.
- Getting a loan from somewhere. If you have good credit, that might be a possibility.
- Family help. That's usually a good source, although it might run out. Family members can usually see the importance of helping.
- Credit card. Most attorneys will be happy to take a charge on a credit card in your name.
- Contribution by your spouse. You might be able to ask a court to order your spouse to pay some or all of your fees. The likelihood of this happening increases when you are able to point out cash or an asset that be used to produce the attorney fee needed. On the other hand, without a ready source for the payment, it is unlikely that a court will order a payment.