| Read Time: 5 minutes | Divorce

How to Find the Best Divorce Lawyer in Chicago

If you are facing divorce, you know you need competent representation. Here, we’ll give advice on how to find the best Chicago divorce lawyer for you. When facing divorce, it’s common for folks to head over to Google and search something like “best divorce lawyer” or “top divorce attorneys”. This is not a bad place to start your search. However, it’s important to understand that there is really no objective measure of who the “best” Chicago divorce lawyers are. The truth is, there are lots of highly qualified attorneys who would do a great job representing you. The best thing you can do as you choose bring the process of finding a divorce lawyer is to consider what traits and qualities would make a given attorney the best one for you. Below we provided the top things to consider when searching for a divorce attorney in Chicago, as well as the qualities common in the top attorneys. Looking for a personal referral for a divorce lawyer? That’s exactly what we provide. Call 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747   Things to Consider When Looking for a Divorce Lawyer There are several factors to consider when determining how to find the best divorce attorney in Chicago. Many have misconceptions about the divorce process and may feel apprehensive about hiring an attorney. Finding one of the top-rated divorce attorneys in Chicago may sound difficult; however, narrowing down your options based on the following criteria ensures you find the right fit for you.  Research  Start with a search of attorneys in your area and locate attorneys serving the Cook County area. Narrow your choices of top divorce lawyers in Chicago to those with a focused portion of their practice dedicated to family law. You may research through typical internet search engines, social media, and even local Chicago magazines. Additionally, discussions with friends and colleagues may offer insight into their own experiences with specific firms. Often others provide quality advice regarding the top divorce lawyers in Chicago.  Vantage Group Legal does all the research for you! When you subscribe to Vantage Group Legal, we get to work for you. Vantage Group Legal matches you with an in-area attorney best-suited for your legal needs through our extensive attorney network with a minimum of seven years of experience in their designated field. Rest assured that Vantage Legal Group finds you one of the top divorce attorneys in Chicago.    Be Realistic  Top divorce attorneys in Chicago lay out the reality of the dissolution process in Illinois. Your assigned attorney will review all necessary information regarding your dissolution. Our network attorneys understand the stress and emotion related to divorce. Our top-rated divorce attorneys in Chicago also work to carefully set expectations to ensure you don’t experience negative surprises throughout the process.   Budget  When determining the best divorce attorney in Chicago, it’s also essential to deal with your budgetary limitations. Even if you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse get along well, issues may arise through the divorce process to create tension and disagreements. The inability of you and your ex-spouse to resolve your problems efficiently may result in higher legal fees. Vantage Group Legal works to address these concerns through our unique service. Our potential client meets with our in-house counsel to discuss the facts of their case. When you decide to subscribe to our service, our in-house lawyers study your case to match you with a specialized network attorney. We provide one simple monthly payment to include your lawyer, support fees, and more.  Goals Vantage Group Legal provides clients with a free consultation to discuss your goals throughout your dissolution process and how we can best serve those goals. If you and your ex-spouse have no children and relatively simple finances, you may wish to explore a more simple dissolution process. Illinois provides two options for parties wanting to dissolve their marriage: fault-based and no-fault. No-Fault Dissolution In no-fault dissolutions, there exists no requirement to prove that your ex-spouse caused the breakdown of the marriage. Many may opt for a no-fault dissolution if they amicably decide to end their marriage. When you speak to a top divorce attorney in Chicago, they may advise this as a cost-saving option. When both parties agree regarding all aspects of the dissolution, both save substantial sums of money otherwise spent in court.  When one party files for no-fault dissolution in Illinois, they must prove that they have been living separately for at least two years. If both parties agree to a no-fault divorce, Illinois laws require proof of living separately for only six months.  The term “separate” implies the parties must live apart. However, any of the top divorce attorneys in Chicago know that parties can satisfy the separation requirement even if they live together if they behave more like roommates than spouses.  Fault-Based Dissolution As of January 1, 2016, the State of Illinois eliminated fault-based dissolutions. Previously, filing for a fault-based dissolution required one party to claim a ground for divorce. Despite the elimination of fault-based dissolutions, one may still file under the grounds of irreconcilable differences. Once you establish a six-month separation from your ex-spouse, the presumption of irreconcilable differences is proven. Additionally, if you and your spouse agree to have irreconcilable differences, Illinois law eliminates the six-month waiting period. Contact a top divorce attorney in Chicago to determine whether the facts of your case may speed up your dissolution process through agreement of irreconcilable differences. What Qualities Should I Look for in a Divorce Lawyer?  When you meet with your potential divorce lawyer, consider the qualities you hope for in a divorce lawyer. Going through a divorce constitutes an emotionally and financially taxing process. The best divorce lawyer in Chicago will prioritize your goals, understand your budget, and focus on the most critical issues.  Communication Clear and easy communication with your attorney is vital to resolving matters related to your divorce. The top divorce attorneys in Chicago communicate all aspects of your case to you while providing you with realistic...

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 5 minutes | Divorce

Do Chicago Family Law Lawyers Give Free Consultations?

If you’re searching for a Chicago attorney to represent you in divorce and/or child custody matter, you’re probably wondering whether you’ll get a free consultation. The answer is, it depends on the lawyer. The most common scenario is for family law attorneys to charge you for the initial consultation, and then simply apply that cost towards your retainer, if you indeed hire them. For example, if a Chicago divorce attorney provides you with a 1 hour consultation, and their hourly rate is $250, you could expect to be billed $250. However, that amount would then be deducted from the attorney’s retainer fee once you become a client. So, if the lawyer’s retainer is $5,000, they would bill you $4,750 instead. That being said, there are family law attorneys who will actually consult with you about your divorce for free. Looking for a free consultation about your family law issue? We provide just that. Call 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747 Regardless of whether you pay for a consultation, or manage to get one for free, it’s important that you know what information to gather, and what questions to ask of your potential attorney. Questions to Ask During a Consultation with a Chicago Family Law Attorney  Divorce lawyers in Chicago offering a free consultation may provide a time limit to answer questions and assess the facts of your case during the consultation. Therefore, prioritizing your questions ensures you get answers to your most important ones. Consult the list below for possible questions to consider when meeting a family law attorney in Chicago offering a free consultation.  What Are the Strengths and Weaknesses of My Case?  Provide your prospective family court lawyer all the facts during your free consultation. With this knowledge, the attorney may assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case. If you understand the strengths of your case, you can discuss possible methods to help you achieve your goals. Additionally, understanding the weaknesses of your position ensures little surprises arise throughout your dissolution proceedings. What Are the Potential Outcomes of My Case? No attorney can predict the future. However, presenting a client with possible outcomes, both good and bad, represents a realistic approach to a dissolution proceeding. No one wants to lose. However, the possibility may exist in some cases. Therefore, to eliminate surprises for their client, an attorney should present you with all outcome scenarios. An experienced divorce lawyer in Chicago providing a free consultation should never promise a specific outcome. What Are Your Fees?  Understanding the fees related to your divorce case is always at the forefront of most client concerns. The cost of dissolution proceedings adds up quickly, particularly when the parties to the divorce share children and complex finances. Disagreements on issues result in considerable time in court and work on the part of your attorney. Therefore, it’s important to discuss your budget for your dissolution proceeding and how you hope to proceed. In addition to outlining anticipated legal fees, your free consultation should include discussions about required fees for filing documents with the court, service of process on your ex-spouse, and other necessary expenses included in all dissolution proceedings. Who Else Is Working on My Case?  Divorce lawyers in Illinois offering a free consultation can vary from solo practitioners to attorneys in large firms. Consider what type of lawyer you would like handling your case. While the many different attorneys offer different benefits, discussion with your attorney should include a question about what other parties may work on your case. A substantial staff of various paralegals and legal assistants may handle aspects of your case for larger firms. By contrast, there may only be one paralegal or assistant in a small firm or perhaps even an associate attorney handling certain aspects of your case. Understanding who you may speak to on specific issues clears communication gaps or frustrations you may feel if unable to reach your attorney directly. How Often May I Speak to My Attorney? Understanding when your attorney plans to update you on the stages of your case may also arise during your free consultation with a family attorney. An attorney may communicate before hearings and other matters so you understand what lies ahead. Additionally, an attorney may communicate promptly after any issues arise. You may also wish to speak with your attorney on other matters related to your dissolution. Communication with your attorney regarding their schedule and availability to discuss matters will help you determine whether you can count on your attorney to attend to your concerns promptly. How Long Will the Process Take? All experienced divorce lawyers in Chicago offering a free consultation understand that there is no way to determine exactly how long a case may take to resolve. However, based on the facts of any case, an attorney may provide potential clients with an estimated timetable based on past cases with similar fact patterns. General Questions to Ask About the Attorney In addition to questions related to your case, you may wish to ask questions about the potential attorney. These questions may include those on the list below and provide insight into this particular family law attorney’s character. While these questions assist in determining whether a potential family law attorney is right for you, never underestimate the value of feeling comfortable with the attorney you choose. Possessing a good working relationship with your family law attorney alleviates any additional stress as you navigate your way through an already emotional and life-changing situation.  How Many Years Have You Been in Practice? In discussions with your potential attorney, determine how many years they have been in practice—not only in the practice of law but also in the practice of family law. All attorneys in the Vantage Group Legal network possess a minimum of seven years of experience in their particular field of law.    How Much of Your Practice Is Dedicated to Family Law?  Understanding the field of law your potential attorney regularly practices represents an important question to ask during your family...

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 5 minutes | Divorce

Average Cost of Divorce in Illinois

Divorce is expensive. At Vantage Group Legal, we can help you do get it done for less. Worrying about how much a divorce costs in Illinois adds to that emotion and stress. While no one may know what your divorce will ultimately cost, carefully considering the following factors may provide guidance. Understanding where to place your priorities and what fees may be unavoidable in the process minimizes the risk of surprises and assists in managing your expectations.  Looking to keep your Illinois divorce costs down? You’re in the right place. Call us 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747 What are the Average Costs Involved With Divorce in Illinois? Initial Fees for an Illinois Divorce Even if you and your ex-spouse mutually agree to end your marriage based on irreconcilable differences, unavoidable fees make up part of the average divorce cost in Illinois.  You must file your petition for divorce in the county where you reside. The average cost to file for divorce in Illinois varies from county to county. For example, in Cook County, parties are responsible for paying the following costs for processing a divorce: $337 to open a case and file for divorce, $206 to respond if your ex-spouse files for divorce first,  $60 to have the sheriff serve your spouse with a copy of filings, and  $50 to attend FOCUS on children, court-ordered parenting classes.  These fees may seem minimal, but they typically make up only a portion of the divorce cost in Illinois.  Divorce Attorney Retainer Many attorneys require clients to pay a retainer payment. A retainer payment is an advance deposit paid initially to hire the attorney. While the average retainer payment varies from attorney to attorney, retainer payments increase how much it costs to file for divorce in Illinois. Most attorneys require retainer payments to pay for court fees, attorney fees, and other expenses arising in your case. Retainer payments rarely constitute the total divorce costs in Illinois.  Divorce Attorney Hourly Rate  The hourly rate of any potential attorney you hire affects how much a divorce costs in Illinois. For example, even simple issues increase the average cost of your divorce in Illinois if your attorney charges a high hourly rate. Suppose the complexity of your dissolution requires multiple court hearings, trials, and conferences with the attorney representing your ex-spouse. This can increase your divorce costs in Illinois exponentially.  When your potential divorce cost in Illinois represents a significant concern, it’s essential to utilize your attorney’s assistance strategically. You do not want to call your attorney for every little thing, but only legal matters for which you require help and advice.  Other Factors That Affect the Cost of Divorce in Illinois Multiple factors significantly increase the divorce cost in Illinois. Determining whether these factors may come into play in your dissolution process may prepare you for potential costs to consider. Trial When unable to resolve issues, your attorney must represent your interest at trial. A trial requires significant preparation by your attorney and can be expensive. Children When the parties have minor children, the cost of divorce in Illinois often skyrockets. Disputes often arise due to disagreements over child support, child custody, and visitation. Parties may save on the average cost of divorce in Illinois if they agree on issues about the children.  Property When parties own property or multiple pieces of property, divorce costs in Illinois increase. Parties unable to reach an agreement regarding property division must rely on the court to determine who gets what—reaching an agreement as to property division out of court assists in reducing the cost of divorce in Illinois.  Mediation may be an option for parties unable to reach an agreement on multiple issues about their divorce. To save on the divorce cost in Illinois, a skilled mediator may provide solutions to disagreements between parties.  What are the Grounds for Divorce in Illinois?  The type of divorce you pursue can affect the divorce cost in Illinois. The degree to which you are able to cooperate with your spouse will help determine how much a divorce costs in Illinois.  No-Fault Dissolution Formerly, Illinois permitted a spouse to file for dissolution of marriage on fault-based grounds. The grounds for fault-based dissolution included infidelity, cruelty, abandonment, and many others. However, as of January 1, 2016, Illinois legislation eliminated fault-based dissolution and now permits parties to file for divorce under irreconcilable differences. Therefore, a party may file for dissolution of the marriage simply by representing that the marriage is an irretrievably broken union with no hope for reconciliation between the parties. The court then must find that the reconciliation efforts by the parties failed and future attempts to reconcile are impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.  Proving irreconcilable differences requires a showing that the parties have lived apart for at least six months. Once parties establish the six-month separation, the court presumes satisfaction of the irreconcilability requirement. Additionally, you may receive a divorce decree with no waiting period if both parties agree to irreconcilable differences. When both parties agree to irreconcilable differences, this may substantially reduce the cost of your divorce in Illinois. However, even if your spouse disagrees, you may still receive a divorce decree after the six months have passed.  Collaborative Divorce  Collaborative divorce provides another option for cost-sensitive parties and operates similarly to mediation. Attorneys work to resolve differences between parties. Upon resolution, the attorneys draft an agreement reflecting the resolution reached by the parties. Collaborative divorce significantly decreases the average cost of divorce in Illinois by reducing court involvement. How Can Vantage Group Legal Help You?  Vantage Group Legal understands the stress and emotions associated with divorce. We help clients find a family law attorney right for you! Call our office to discuss your case either in person or virtually with one of our in-house attorneys. In this initial consultation, you advise us of your goals and any concerns you may have regarding divorce costs in Illinois. We then provide a clear plan of...

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 4 minutes | Divorce

Low-Cost Lawyer for Uncontested Divorce in Chicago

Yes, There Are Good Options for Hiring a Low-Cost Divorce Lawyer in Chicago Let’s face it—divorce can be a complicated topic.  Nobody goes into a marriage thinking it will result in divorce later on. Nevertheless, couples choose to end their marriages for a variety of different reasons.  Regardless of their reasons, parties often want to keep divorce proceedings as quick and cost-effective as possible. Hiring an attorney for your divorce can actually be one of the best ways to achieve these goals. Are you considering an uncontested divorce in Chicago or looking for affordable divorce lawyers in Chicago? If so, contact Vantage Group Legal today. Our team of professionals can help connect you with divorce attorneys in the area for one low monthly fee. Give us a call today to learn more about our unique services. Let’s discuss how we can help you save both time and money. Low-Cost Options for Divorce in Chicago, Illinois As with any other legal process, a divorce has the potential to be expensive and time-consuming. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. In fact, there are a few options in which a low-cost divorce might not be outside the realm of possibility.  File for Divorce Without the Assistance of an Attorney Of course, one way to achieve a cheap divorce in Chicago is to attempt to navigate the process on your own without the assistance of a divorce lawyer. However, this is generally not recommended.  The fact remains that a divorce is a legal process with specific requirements and deadlines. If you are unfamiliar with the intricacies of the process, you can miss key steps.  This could lead to the other party obtaining a more favorable outcome. And if the other party to divorce has an attorney, while you do not, this can make matters even more difficult.  Ultimately, proceeding without an attorney could result in a more costly divorce in the long run. Hire a Cheap Divorce Lawyer in Chicago Another low-cost divorce option is to hire a cheap divorce attorney to assist with your case.  This might be a better option than proceeding with a divorce without the assistance of an attorney whatsoever. However, be wary as you make your selection.  Don’t just select the first option that comes up after a quick internet search for “cheap divorce lawyers in Illinois.” By doing so, you may risk sacrificing valuable experience and quality, both of which are crucial in a divorce proceeding. So don’t limit yourself to only the cheapest divorce lawyers in the area—make sure to carefully vet your potential candidates first and select an attorney that has the skills and resources necessary to take on your case.  Use an Affordable Divorce Lawyer in Chicago to Help you File for an Uncontested Divorce Another great option to keep your divorce affordable is to file for uncontested divorce in Chicago. In situations where there is little to no animosity between the parties, an uncontested divorce might be a way to keep your divorce costs relatively low. If the parties agree on how to handle all aspects of the divorce, this can make the filing process much simpler and can reduce the amount of time and money required to finalize the divorce.  Of course, uncontested divorce in Chicago may not be a viable option in all cases. Speak with a divorce attorney today to discuss your options and see if an uncontested divorce might be right for you and your situation.  Uncontested Divorce in Chicago Sometimes, couples simply grow apart for one reason or another. And while the parties may agree that staying married is not the best decision moving forward, they may not have any animosity toward each other.  In these situations, an uncontested divorce in Chicago can be a great low-cost option. Looking for Affordable Divorce Lawyers in Chicago?  If you’re looking for affordable divorce lawyers in Chicago, contact Vantage Group Legal today.  When you work with our team, we will assign you to an experienced network attorney who fits your particular legal needs. Vantage Group Legal is not a law firm. Thus, you might be wondering, How does Vantage help you achieve a low-cost divorce?  Not all divorce lawyers in Chicago are low-cost and also experienced. However, our unique system at Vantage Group Legal can give you a way to achieve a low-cost divorce. And we can do it all for one low monthly fee.  With our subscription plans, you pay only one low monthly fee to be connected with a knowledgeable and experienced divorce attorney in your area who will handle all aspects of your case for the duration of your subscription plan. You will have access to Vantage Group Legal’s internal support team as well. For more information on our subscription services and how we can help you accomplish a low-cost divorce, contact Vantage Group Legal today.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 6 minutes | Divorce

What Happens When You File for Divorce First?

When you file for divorce first, you become the plaintiff in the case. This means that you may have a bit more control over the case. For example, the plaintiff can drop the case as long as they do so before the defendant’s spouse files an answer. Timing Advantages of Filing First Assuming that your spouse is not also rushing to file for divorce, filing first can let you choose the timing of the divorce. If you want to contact a lawyer before you file, filing first can allow you to set up legal representation before the divorce proceeding is initiated. Hiring a lawyer before filing can prevent your spouse from using the tactic of “conflicting out.” This occurs when one spouse meets with several divorce lawyers about the divorce proceeding, creating a conflict of interest that prevents those lawyers from representing you. Obviously, this is a spiteful tactic, and it is not a common part of a divorce case. In addition, if you live in a major city, it is just not possible for your spouse to meet with enough attorneys to significantly limit your options for representation.  Hiring a lawyer before filing still has advantages. You will not feel rushed during the hiring process if a case has not yet been filed. This will allow you to take your time, ask your potential attorney questions, and find out if you really want them to represent you. Choosing Your Jurisdiction Filing for divorce before your spouse may give you some control over the jurisdiction of your divorce. While there are rules determining where you can file, if you and your spouse live in different states or if you have a secondary residence, you may have some options. Each state has its own divorce law, so there could be an advantage to choosing one state over another. For example, there are three different formulas that states use to determine the amount of child support payments. These different formulas can result in different sums of monthly child support. If you want to make sure your child receives the maximum possible financial support, you may want to file for divorce in a state that uses one particular formula. As mentioned, you will not have a full range of choices available for a filing jurisdiction. You or your spouse must have some sort of residential connection to a state to file for divorce in that state. Talking to a divorce attorney can help you choose the best available jurisdiction. An experienced lawyer will be able to tell you how the law of a particular state can affect your divorce case. An attorney will discuss the pros and cons of each jurisdiction with you and help you make an informed decision. Automatic Temporary Restraining Order In some jurisdictions, when you file for divorce, an automatic temporary restraining order (ATRO) takes effect. The ATRO prevents both parties from engaging in certain actions during the divorce proceeding. Each state is different, but there are several common types of actions that are prohibited under an ATRO. Property Transfers Neither spouse can sell or otherwise dispose of any property once an ATRO is in place. This applies to both property that each spouse owns separately and marital property that is owned in common. If you think that your spouse might try to empty your shared bank account before filing for divorce, you should consider filing first. The ATRO requires both spouses to agree in writing before any such property transfers occur. If your spouse transfers property in violation of the ATRO, there are legal consequences. Penalties can include a fine or imprisonment. Filing for divorce first is an important step toward protecting your assets if your spouse might try to pull a fast one. Child Custody The ATRO will prevent either spouse from removing any children from the state in which the divorce is pending. Only an agreement in writing between the spouses will allow one parent to move with the children. This prevents one parent from moving the children to a different jurisdiction to try to avoid a custody decision. Policy Coverage In some states, an ATRO prevents either party from changing the beneficiary on any insurance. This includes health insurance. If you rely on your spouse’s health insurance for coverage, an ATRO will make sure you remain a beneficiary while the divorce is pending. Filing first can make sure the ATRO is in place before your spouse can change the beneficiaries on any policies. Plaintiff Advantages When you file for divorce first, you become the plaintiff in the divorce proceeding. Being the plaintiff can be advantageous for a few reasons. Default Judgment Once you file for divorce, your spouse will be served with divorce papers. They then have a certain amount of time to file their answer. If they do not file within the specified time, you may be awarded a default divorce. In a default divorce, the divorce terms that you included in your original filing are more likely to be the legally binding terms of the divorce. It is important to note that default divorces are often overturned. Even if your spouse does not file a reply within the provided window, they have a set period of time to contest the default divorce. If your spouse gives a good reason for their failure to respond in time, the court will overturn the default judgment. This essentially starts the case over as if you had just filed your divorce papers.  Some people filing for divorce may calculate their filing so their spouse has a difficult time filing an answer in time. Tactics like filing while a spouse is on vacation and similar strategies are not common, but they do occur. It is not advisable to use one of these strategies because it is more likely that your spouse will be able to get a default judgment overturned if you filed your divorce papers in bad faith. First to Present Your Case As the plaintiff, if...

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 5 minutes | Divorce

I Need a Divorce Lawyer and Have No Money

Many people need a divorce lawyer but cannot afford to pay expensive legal fees. Fortunately, you may be able to find representation through a local legal aid society or volunteer lawyers organization. Many of these organizations provide low-cost or even free legal services to qualifying individuals. These organizations also offer additional resources that may help you with your divorce. Will I Be Appointed a Lawyer? It is required by the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that if you are facing criminal charges, the court must appoint you a lawyer if you cannot afford one. However, this does not usually apply in the divorce context. In custody cases involving minor children, some states will appoint a lawyer on behalf of your children. A judge will usually appoint a lawyer for a child if neither parent is representing the child’s best interests. Unfortunately, there are usually no state-funded, court-appointed attorneys for divorce cases. However, this does not mean that you cannot find free or affordable legal representation elsewhere. Courts in some states will appoint a lawyer to represent a parent in certain child custody cases. For example, if your parental rights are at stake, you may be appointed a lawyer under state law.  Where Should I Look for Help? Everyone knows that getting divorced can be expensive. There are court fees you must pay, and you may need to pay a professional custody evaluator or a mediator. The biggest expense by far is hiring a divorce lawyer. Luckily, various options exist if you are worried about your ability to pay for a divorce attorney. The availability of low cost legal services varies by state. All fifty states plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico offer some form of legal assistance to people who are not able to afford to pay a lawyer.  Legal Aid Call the legal aid society in your local area to ask about the kinds of services they offer. Different organizations have different requirements. You may have to earn below a certain income threshold to qualify for services. Additionally, the need for free legal services is often much greater than what the local legal aid society can handle. There may be a waiting list for receiving pro bono legal services from your local legal aid organization. Local Bar Association Each state has a bar association that oversees the certification and qualifications of attorneys practicing in that state. Your state’s bar association may be able to suggest options for free or low-cost representation in your divorce.  Some bar associations can offer you a discounted consultation with an attorney. If your divorce case is relatively simple, this consultation may be all the legal advice you need. Not every divorce requires a lawyer to handle every step of the case. If you and your spouse agree on most of the divorce issues, a consultation may be all you need. However, a divorce with one or more contested issues and any divorce with contested child custody can get complicated. A consultation can still help. The consulting lawyer can help you weigh the pros and cons of representing yourself versus continuing to look for free representation. Once you know what the stakes are, you will be able to make an informed decision. Self-Help Tools Even if you do not qualify for free legal representation through a legal aid society, the organization may still be able to help you. Some legal aid organizations offer self-help tools for people facing legal issues. Self-help tools can include programs designed to help you fill out the forms that the court requires for your divorce. Legal forms in their standard format can be extremely confusing, especially if you don’t have prior experience dealing with the court system. Self-help programs offer a question and answer format to guide you through the process. You will answer the questions the program asks to the best of your ability, and the program will use your answers to fill out the forms.  Before you sit down to fill out your paperwork, take some time to get organized. You will need to know some basic information and some more detailed information about you and your spouse’s assets to complete the paperwork. Set aside some time to review your financial records such as bank statements and mortgage documents. This can help you take stock of the property that you and your spouse own, as well as which property you own jointly versus separately. Once you have gathered all the documentation you think you will need, you are ready to begin the process of filling out your forms. Low-Cost Legal Services Getting legal advice does not always have to involve an expensive law firm. Vantage Group Legal offers a subscription service that you can tailor to your needs. After an initial free consultation, you can opt to subscribe to Vantage Group Legal’s services. An attorney who is experienced in divorce law or other relevant matters will be assigned to your case. Vantage Group Legal offers a low-cost alternative to traditional law firms. What Are Some Other Options? If your spouse is easily able to afford an attorney and you are not, you may be able to petition the court to require your spouse to pay your legal fees. In many states, you can file a petition for interim attorney fees or order for counsel fees against your spouse. It is not a sure thing that the court will grant your motion. Your spouse can oppose the motion and respond with reasons why they should not have to pay your legal fees. Ultimately a judge will rule on the most equitable outcome. Some attorneys will want you to pay them for the time they spend filing and defending the motion for attorney fees. If they win the motion, they will then continue to represent you and will be paid directly by your spouse. Another somewhat unpopular option for paying an attorney is taking out a loan. Loans are risky and can leave you in a more difficult financial...

Continue Reading