A lot of people and things have budgets. Households have budgets; nations have budgets; even the earth has an energy budget. From budgets come options we label as affordable or unaffordable. If money were limitless, affordability would never be a concern. Most Virginians, though, have to learn to live within their means; they do not have bottomless pockets. They have household budgets and can easily pronounce this or that extravagance as something they cannot afford. What about getting a divorce, though? Is that something everyone can afford?
It is True that You Afford What You Want and Sacrifice What You Must
Your neighbor has a boat; you have a pup tent. Your neighbor heads out to Lake Moomaw (we have not been; we hear it is grand and besides, we just love the name) while you grumble about not being able to afford a vacation at all this year. Yet you never notice your neighbor subsisted off of ramen noodles all winter to be able to afford that boat trip.
People afford what they want to afford; give up nice meals for three months and your summer boat trip is paid for. You say you cannot afford a divorce lawyer, but consider:
- What price do you put on your misery by staying in a collapsing marriage?
- What damage are the two of you doing to your children who witness a loveless marriage?
- With your one trip through life, which will you regret more: sticking with a painfully dysfunctional marriage, or finding your own path with a bit less money?
So to begin, decide if you are simply saying you cannot afford a divorce because you are diverting money from a divorce (unpleasant but helpful) to vacations, club memberships, beer, or Amazon shopping?
A divorce is generally not a pleasant experience; many people view it as the end of a failed relationship and therefore a bad reflection on them. Whatever your situation, if you are even contemplating divorce, you know your marriage has serious problems. Carrying those problems around with you does nothing positive for your health, your focus, your earning power, or your family members. So while a divorce might be financially expensive, it could be far cheaper than the strain caused by the sour marriage.
Creative Ways to Pay for Your Divorce
You can also be creative about funding your divorce:
- Borrow from a retirement plan
- Tap savings
- Borrow from a credit union or Savings & Loan
- Sell stock
- Borrow from family members eager to see you through the divorce
- Put regular charges on credit cards
- Pawn jewelry, furs, sports equipment or anything else of value
An influx of cash from tricks like home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) and second mortgages is generally not a good idea, since the collateral in question is one of the items to be divided in the divorce.
Do You Have the Right to Legal Counsel in a Divorce?
In civil law (divorce is civil, not criminal, law), you have no constitutionally protected right to counsel. The Virginia Bar Association outlined four avenues for getting legal help in civil actions for Virginians unable to afford their own attorneys:
- Legal Aid
- Nonprofit legal services
- The Virginia State Bar Lawyer Referral Service ($35 for a half hour of legal advice)
At The Firm For Men we make no representation about the accuracy, merits or qualifications of these paths to legal prowess.
An uncontested divorce in Virginia (neither party wishes to fight the proceeding) is still a series of court appearances, paperwork, and hurdles. While many people rightly opt for the peace of mind of hiring attorneys to see them through the no-fault (uncontested) divorce, in some cases the divorcing couple can complete the paperwork themselves.
N0-fault divorce requires four things:
- You have been separated for six months (without children) or a year (with children);
- At least one of you lives in Virginia;
- You signed a property settlement agreement (also known as a separation agreement)
- Your sweat and hard work to get everything done correctly
We have talked in detail before about the requirements for separation (no sex, no help, no nuthin’!). Since you will be filing for divorce in the country jurisdiction where one of you lives, your residency in the state is a no-brainer. Working out a separation agreement, if you both truly have no axes to grind, should go smoothly, though getting the details right is challenging.
Make sure you meet all the requirements before beginning the process of seeking a “no-fault” divorce, but you can save substantial fees if you are willing to put in the tremendous amount of effort needed to shepherd the proceedings through the Virginia court system.
Are There Pro Bono Divorce Lawyers?
Some limited resources are available in Virginia, too, for work done by lawyers as a public good. This pro bono publico (literally, in Latin, “for the public good”) includes organizations with religious affiliations, such as Good Samaritan Advocates, or with secular ties, such as the Fairfax Law Foundation.
Calling Never Hurts
What do you suppose is the worst that could happen if you call The Firm for Men at 757-383-9184 and ask about how we can help? We believe everyone deserves good legal counsel, and online forms are no substitute for the professionalism, deep knowledge and experience of our attorneys. Call today and speak to the divorce lawyers for men only!