How Can I Get Divorced if I Can’t Afford to Pay an Attorney?
One major fear that many people have when facing divorce proceedings is the costs of retaining and paying a divorce attorney, which can ultimately result in thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees. Especially for a spouse who traditionally has not worked during the marriage or who makes a much lower income than the other spouse, the prospect of being unable to pay for legal representation can be quite frightening, and may even deter him or her from initiating divorce proceedings. Therefore, the ability of a spouse to obtain payment of his or her attorney’s fees from the other spouse can be a critical step in resolving the divorce case.
Florida Law and Payment of Attorney’s Fees
Florida law does permit judges in divorce cases to order one spouse to pay the other spouse’s attorney’s fees, as well as certain kinds of other expenses, depending on the circumstances, including the respective financial resources of the parties. This law acknowledges the fact that some spouses are unable to afford to pay for a divorce or family law attorney, and provides a mechanism for them to seek relief on important family law issues through the court system. An order for attorney’s fees can occur in the context of not only a divorce, but also maintenance proceedings, parental timesharing cases, child support cases, enforcement proceedings, and modification proceedings. However, an order for the payment of attorney’s fees is not available in domestic violence proceedings or in enforcement actions where the individual seeking the attorney’s fees has acted wrongfully in some way, such as by denying the other party parenting time with the child or failing to pay child support as ordered.
Procedures for Requesting Payment of Attorney’s Fees
A party who wishes to request the payment of his or her attorney’s fees from the court must do so at the beginning of the court proceedings. If the requesting party initiates the court proceedings, he or she must include the request for attorney’s fees in the initial paperwork that he or she files with the court. If the other party initiated the court proceedings, then the requesting party must include the request for attorney’s fees in the papers that he or she files in response to the court action. If a party does not make the request for payment of attorney’s fees at the beginning of the case, then he or she typically cannot later request them. Therefore, it is essential that you consult with a divorce lawyer at the outset of your case in order to preserve your request.
Call Your Florida Divorce Attorney for the Legal Advice You Need
Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC, provides comprehensive legal advice and representation to those individuals who are involved in divorces, parental timesharing disputes, child support proceedings, and any other type of family law case. We pride ourselves on offering you the legal assistance that you need in what is likely to be a highly emotional and stressful situation. Contact our office today by calling 954-800-2362 or filling out the online form.