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Getting Divorced When You're Broke

As we will hopefully be heading out of a pandemic shortly it is reasonable to think that some of you reading this blog post are going through difficult economic times. Without a doubt, many of the measures intended to limit the spread of the coronavirus harmed our economy and the jobs situation of many Americans. If you count yourself among those people who either lost their job or have had their number of hours limited at work due to coronavirus restrictions then disposable income in the ability to save money has likely been limited for you over the past year. 

Finding consistent work in the economy is something that many of us take for granted. For those of you who have been struggling to find consistent work for any reason over the past year then you know exactly what I am talking about. Simply making ends meet daily has likely been a struggle. It is an entirely different matter altogether for you to think about large purchases or investments. Borrowing money from your 401K or even taking out loans to make your household bills each month may have seemed like the best possible option for you at various stages of this pandemic. 

The need for disposable income increases depending on various circumstances that she may be facing. If you are concerned with the need to file for divorce then you should be aware that there are choices and options available to you as far as hiring an attorney and proceeding with the lawsuit even if you are not doing as well financially as you may ordinarily like. In today's blog post I would like to share with you some information on how to proceed with the divorce on a budget, or at worst when you have very little money to spend at all. 

Do you need to hire an attorney to get divorced in Texas?

First off, the most expensive part about getting divorced these days is hiring an attorney. Yes, it does cost some money to get divorced even without an attorney but by far the most expensive part about getting a divorce is hiring a lawyer. This is to say nothing of the costs of a divorce after the divorce is done as far as dividing up your community estate or paying child support but the procedures and parts of a divorce that are most expensive while you are in the midst of a case is having an attorney. 

First off, no law in Texas requires you to hire an attorney to get divorced. It is advisable to hire an attorney and is also desirable from the standpoint that you can receive advice, perspective, and assistance with the divorce by hiring a lawyer. The nice thing about living in our area is that you will find a range of family law attorneys who charge different amounts for their services. From attorneys with upscale offices who cater to wealthy clientele 2 attorneys who are just trying to get their start and are willing to work with people on a budget, you will not struggle to find a range of attorneys who can handle a divorce in Southeast Texas. 

Even if the law does not require that you have an attorney to file a divorce in Texas it is a good idea to have one under most circumstances. From the outset of the case, you will find that there are procedures in place that have to be followed to get a divorce. It is as if you can skip a few steps and then come back or make corrections along the way. Rather, you have to follow the steps and procedures that are in place to get the result that you want. 

Having an attorney to guide you through the process is an incredibly important part of this stage of a divorce. Many of our current clients attempted to file for divorce on their own and were met with roadblocks and problems that led to their deciding it was important to hire a lawyer. These folks very good decision to seek help when they need it but had they made that decision before the case was even filed they could have saved themselves time and money. You should look at your circumstances to determine whether or not you can visibly handle the divorce on your own without an attorney's assistance. 

The other question that you need to ask yourself is whether or not the facts and circumstances of your life and marriage demand that you hire an attorney. For example, if you do not have children and have very little in the way of community property to divide in your marriage then you may not need to hire an attorney. If there is relatively little at stake in your divorce then you may feel comfortable proceeding without the guidance and advocacy of an attorney. This is especially true if your spouse chooses not to be represented, either.

However, if you have children or even the smallest bit of community property at stake in your divorce then it is probably a good idea to at least interview a few lawyers before deciding on representation. Keep in mind that speaking to an attorney likely will not cost you any money. Given the sheer volume of lawyers in our area, there is almost surely someone out there who can adequately represent you in your divorce. You know your financial situation better than anyone so you need to think this decision through before going it alone in your divorce. 

What level of representation do you need in your divorce?

If you decide to go ahead and hire an attorney you then have a choice as to what level the presentation you end up hiring for. Most family law attorneys will allow you to hire them to perform certain roles for you within your divorce. For instance, you may need a lawyer to represent you solely to review documents to provide advice at a certain stage of your case. Or, you may be interested in hiring an attorney only to review your mediated settlement agreement and then draft your final orders. Finally, you may want an attorney to be able to represent and advise you throughout your divorce 

Whatever your decision is you can likely find an attorney who is willing to represent you under the circumstances that you want. Attorneys understand that not every divorce is the same and that your circumstances may reasonably lead you to want a different degree of representation than another similarly situated person might. For this reason, attorneys have become more flexible in the services that they are willing to offer. It doesn't mean that you will get a lower quality of service if he only hires an attorney for a certain segment of your case. Rather, you are hiring an attorney based on you are understanding of your case in your specific needs. 

Many attorneys advertise on their websites regarding the type of representation that she can inquire about. If you do not see something on their website that doesn't mean that the service isn't offered it may just be the case that you have to ask him or her in a consultation. Use your consultation with the attorney to learn more about the services offered by that lawyer and what he or she charges for each. From there, you can compare and contrast but they charge against what other attorneys charge for similar services. 

Do attorneys represent a client for free?

Attorneys can and do represent clients pro bono, or without charging a fee, from time to time. There is no requirement for attorneys to do so and there is nothing unethical about not representing clients in this way. Keep in mind that attorneys operate small businesses just like your favorite restaurant. The main difference between most businesses and attorneys is that attorneys have a terrible reputation among the public. However, just because most people don't hold attorneys in high regard doesn't mean that they don't have employee pay, rent, overhead, and other bills to be concerned with. 

If you find yourself in a position where you have no money to pay for an attorney you should consider your options. I find that in my life it is when I start to think that I have no options or no choice but one thing is when I typically run into problems. I sort of back myself into a corner when it comes to my options and I pigeon hole myself into doing something that Is not all that wise. The simple reality of most of our situations is that we have more options than we give ourselves credit for. The only difference is we can talk ourselves into doing something unwise when we feel trapped. 

First, you should ask an attorney if he or she represents clients without charge if there is a need. Now, I can tell you that the more desperate your circumstances the more likely an attorney is to take on your case without charge. Specifically, if you are a victim of domestic abuse or another set of similar circumstances then I would think that you could find an attorney who is willing to take on your case without charge. 

For everyone else, you would need to display a fairly simple set of circumstances and a demonstrable need for no charge representation. Even if an attorney cannot take your case without charge you may be able to work with the attorney to represent you at a reduced rate. Any little bit can help when you are struggling to make ends meet. Of course, individual attorneys may consider special circumstances when deciding whether or not to accept a case on a pro bono basis. All you can do is directly ask the attorney and present your situation to him or her to determine whether or not they will be able to represent you without charge. 

Another alternative for you to seek representation through is different legal aid societies such as the Texas Rio Grande legal fund, Houston Bar Association, or even the Texas young lawyers Association. These groups have resources available to point you towards attorneys who may be able to represent you are they for free or basically for free arrangement. There are never any guarantees out there as far as being able to locate an attorney who will represent you free of charge but there is much better to have looked for an attorney without finding one rather than giving up hope that there is someone out there who can help you. 

Do you even need to get a divorce? 

As the old saying goes an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the worth of cure. If you can avoid putting yourself in a position where you need to find the cure for a bad condition then you will be better off. In this case, if you could avoid ever having to get a divorce and therefore hire an attorney he will avoid having to go through the exercises that we have spent today's blog post talking about. Many of you reading this blog have settled upon the idea that a divorce is a necessary event in your life. What I am presenting to you as we close out today's blog post is whether or not you need to get a divorce in the 1st place. 

You need to ask yourself what the main reason is why you are getting a divorce. If you have a series of well thought out in established reasons for getting a divorce then you may need to get a divorce. Certainly, though, if your basis for divorce has been a change in your life or that of your spouse during this pandemic then you may want to reconsider the need for a divorce. Sometimes conditions are in place for a relatively short period Beth is unpleasant but will go away after some time. If the pandemic is the sole source of the condition that has led you towards divorce then you may want to reconsider whether or not that divorce is necessary. 

Have you attempted to attend counseling with your spouse? Have you been hesitant to try and counsel your way through the problems you have been experiencing in your marriage? Has a loss and income caused problems in your marriage over the past year? These are the sort of questions that I recommend you ask yourself before fully committing to a divorce. While it is possible to no longer require the services of an attorney the more you commit yourself emotionally to any process the more difficult it will be to back out of it. Once the case gets going it is even more difficult to even hit pause on your divorce. 

What also tends to happen during a divorce is that you start to take in the opinion of people that you are wouldn't ordinarily listen to. I have seen it happen first hand where otherwise sane people tend to lose their minds and start acting irrationally as a result of a divorce being filed. There is something about the stress associated with divorce that can be especially troublesome for many people. Before you go forward with the divorce you should think about whether or not you are equipped to handle that process right now. 

Finally, if you do need to move forward with the divorce then I would recommend that you begin looking into how to fix your finances on the fly. Living on a budget may not seem like All that much fun at the moment but it can go a long way towards helping you fix your finances in short order. You may not even have to increase your income to find that living under a budget makes you feel like you've gotten a raise. 

Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

if you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations can go a long way towards helping you learn more about Texas family law and how your family's circumstances would potentially interact with these laws. 

Our attorneys can be found in the family courts of Southeast Texas daily fighting for our clients and advocating for their rights. We have a team of committed staff, paralegals, and attorneys whose daily goal is to benefit the lives of our clients and their families as much as possible. We work for our clients and we take that responsibility very seriously. Thank you for your interest in our law office and we hope that you will join us again tomorrow as we continue to post more unique and informative content regarding the world of Texas family law. 


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