Deciding to move forward with a divorce is often one of the biggest decisions a woman may make in her life. Once this decision is made, one of the critical steps is to determine how the legal fees will be paid. Often times women become paralyzed at this stage, and it does not seem to matter whether the woman is a working professional or a stay at home Mom. Many clients come to our firm and have not thought through this issue. Divorce can be expensive and many women make the mistake of believing that a lawyer will take the case for free by requesting the Husband to pay the legal fees. In many cases, the divorce lawyer will indeed file a motion requesting temporary support and fees; however, in many jurisdictions, it may not be possible to set a hearing for the motion until after the parties have attended a required mediation which could be six months or more down the line. Most attorneys require a minimum retainer to take your case and require timely payment. There are numerous options to explore, so prepare by making a plan, and get started!
1. Set up your own bank account and begin accumulating money – if you already have your own bank or savings account, great, but many married women only have joint accounts. It is important to set up your own account when planning for a divorce, so that your spouse does not have access and take the money. Often women find themselves in a situation where the Husband has withdrawn all the funds, or suddenly find that the Husband has prevented access to the Wife. Begin saving money from your paycheck or from your “allowance” or monthly “budget”.
2. Transfer money from a joint account (1/2) and deposit into your personal bank account – Although this is an option, consider the consequences of this action. Obviously, your Husband will know you are planning to leave, and may create additional stress and conflict with the home. This option should be considered after exploring other options and should be an option of last resort.
3. Cash advance from existing credit cards – Many credit cards provide for “cash advances” with set limits. Look at any cards in your own name and also any joint credit cards you may have.
4. Apply for credit cards in your own name – Every woman needs a credit card in your own name to build credit. Even if you have been a stay a home Mom, many credit companies will consider your Husband’s income and credit score if you are still married, when applying for a credit card in your own name.
5. Apply for a line of credit or personal loan from a bank or credit union – This option may be more difficult if you are not working, but if you and your Husband have significant money deposited at a particular bank or credit union, give it a try.
6. Utilize your Home Equity Line of Credit – Many married couples have an existing line of credit based on the equity of the marital home and often this line of credit has a much lower interest rate than traditional loans or credit cards.
7. Borrow funds from your 401K – Most 401K’s have borrowing limits, borrowing length restrictions; however, this type of loan has low or no application fees, no credit check and typically a competitive interest rate.
8. Borrow from parents or friends – Advantages to this option may include lower interest rates and flexible payment terms. The disadvantages may include the intrusion into your personal life (meddling), may cause disputes or cause stress in the relationship. Make sure to draw up proper formal paperwork to clarify the amount borrowed, the interest rate and repayment terms.
9. Sell or pawn personal property – Many pawn shops will hold on to your valuables for a specific period of time and provide you cash upfront based on the value of the property. Make sure you clearly understand the terms of the agreement and pay back the loan on time or you may lose
the property to the pawn shop. Check your community for consignment shops, garage sales or check out selling property through the internet or through an app on your mobile device. (Examples: Craigslist, Ebay, Facebook groups, Gone, OfferUp, Vinted, Tradesy, Chairish, ThredUp, GSALR.com, Carousell, Poshmark, Boxes, SellSimple, Shpock, Shopial, Buyable Pins on Pinterest, Twitter Buy Buttons Beetailer, Chirpify).
10. Sell your wedding dress – Check out these online sites: Nearly Newlywed, Tradesy, Still White, and PreOwned Wedding Dresses.
11. Sell your jewelry and watches – Before you sell, make sure to obtain an accurate option of its quality, authenticity and value. A certified appraiser can give you an unbiased option. If the value is likely worth less than $2,000, and you cannot afford to pay for an appraisal, you may be able to obtain a free evaluation from a diamond buyer or pawnbroker. There are online options such as Craigslist, EBAY, Worthy, and CIRCA.
12. Sell your china, crystal and silver – Consider sites such as Waterford, Replacements LTD and Classic Replacements and Silver Queen.