Many attorneys aren’t going to accept a case without an upfront retainer. A stay-at-home parent whose spouse earns the household income can take money out of a joint account in order to pay an attorney; as long as the account is jointly held, this would be perfectly permissible. If the stay-at-home parent has access to a credit card, then they could also hire an attorney with those funds.
Unfortunately, a lot of stay-at-home parents are married to people who do not earn very much money, or whose spouse has all of the accounts in their name, so they are unable to access funds to pay for an attorney. Other people are already drowning in credit card debt and simply cannot afford to hire an attorney. Under these circumstances, assuming the spouse has no family members they could borrow money from, alternative ways of hiring an attorney must be sought.
One such way is to find an attorney who will agree to take the case without a retainer, and instead, later go after the other spouse or get paid after the division of assets. If a stay-at-home parent’s spouse has significant earnings, then they should not have a problem finding an attorney who is willing to take the case and get an award of attorney fees from the court, ordering their spouse to pay their fees. Generally speaking, judges will award attorney fees to the stay-at-home parent from the spouse who has the earnings. There are also volunteer attorney organizations and legal aid options for competent legal representation, although the waitlists for such representation are very long, so it’s not always a great option.
It is not a good idea for a person to represent themselves unless they have an extremely simple case that involves a short-term divorce, no assets, and no children. In such cases, completing the paperwork and avoiding court may be relatively easy. However, a stay-at-home parent who has assets and children will need legal representation. There’s nothing stopping a person from scheduling a consultation with an attorney right away. This will allow them to explore the different issues, know how to prepare for the divorce, and discuss their options for paying for legal representation. If a person truly can’t afford an attorney, any attorney they consult with should point them to local resources where they can find the legal aid or volunteer representation. No stay-at-home parent should feel like they can’t file for a divorce. There are ways to get it done; it just may take some investigation on the stay-at-home parent’s part or they may need to wait until a free attorney becomes available.
If I Was A Stay-At-Home Parent, Will I Be Able To Get Any Financial Support During The Divorce?
There are methods for obtaining immediate temporary orders of child and spousal support. In this context, ‘immediate’ means within a few weeks because it takes time for the court to review the application for temporary support. A person who either has primary placement of the children (meaning the children are living with them 50 percent or more of the time) or who is earning less money and is in need of spousal support can definitely obtain temporary orders of support. The courts can adjust those orders as the parties go through the divorce process.
It should be understood that just because there are temporary orders of support granted doesn’t necessarily mean that every bill is going to get paid during the divorce process, especially if the parties are living separately. Two incomes that covered the expenses of one household cannot always cover the expenses of two separate households. The court generally won’t order one person to pay individual bills of the other party. Instead, parties are left to pay their expenses from the support they’ve been awarded. Temporary support may be obtained either in a divorce action or in family court. Note that while child support may be obtained whether parties were married or not, in New York State spousal support is only available for married partners.
For more information on Non-Working Spouse In A New York Divorce, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (585) 449-4987 today.
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