Paying for a Divorce When You are Not Working

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In many marriages, especially those with children, one spouse often acts as the sole or primary breadwinner for the entire household. In these marriages, the stay-at-home spouse may rightfully be concerned about a number of issues in divorce. Perhaps the most troubling issue for many is how to pay for a divorce. When one spouse controls the funds for the family, it can seem hopeless. The good news is you have options.

Changes in the Marital Unit

In a study by the Pew Research Center, data revealed that in 1960, about 70% of households included a single income-earning parent – usually the father. By 2010, the number had dropped to just over 30%. This means the average family in America today has a completely different makeup than it did just 60-70 years ago. With two parents working, divorces have become a bit more complicated, as has the process of financing a divorce. However, for those in the minority who are stay-at-home parents, it can often be a real concern to pay for a divorce.

The Income Earner can be Ordered to Pay the Cost of Your Attorney Fees

While every divorce is unique, when it comes to divorce, courts seek to balance the situation fairly. If you are not working and are primarily responsible for maintaining the home and caring for young children and your spouse works outside the home, you may be able to petition for your attorney’s fees to be paid by your spouse. It is not a sure thing, but it can work. Here is generally how this works.

Getting Your Spouse to Pay Your Legal Bills

Under Section 30-2-54 of Alabama’s Revised Statutes, you may be able to recover attorney fees if your spouse is in contempt. This can happen when you incur legal bills while attempting to enforce certain court orders, such as temporary maintenance or child support.

The other way to get your legal bills paid, however, is by having your attorney petition the court to award them. The courts favor both parties being represented by experienced legal professionals, as it cuts down on delays and ensures fairness. If you have no income, most judges will recognize the need for your attorney to be paid out of your marital estate. In other words, the income-earning spouse can be ordered to pay.

If you are concerned that your spouse will not be able to afford your fees and his or her own, just remember that a judge will have to review any petition for fees, and that same judge will be aware of your collective assets and debts. Therefore, a good attorney can usually tailor a divorce to suit just about any budget, assuming the parties can reach reasonable agreements without extended litigation.

Talk to an Attorney as Early as Possible

If you suspect you will need to have your spouse pay for your legal bills, contact Five Points Law Group today, as we can often help you plan and prepare for this process. Early planning is key. Just remember that the more information you have going into a divorce, the better your decisions will be.

Throughout Birmingham, the attorneys of Five Points Law Group are here to help, so call today.

Heather Fann
Heather Fann
Heather's practice seeks to preserve the dignity of clients through healthy paths for their changing families, employing both modern and traditional means of resolution including collaborative practice and methods such as use of Parenting Coordinators, as well as mediation, though she stands ready to litigate where necessary.

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