Our product recommendations are made independently, but we may earn affiliate commissions if you use a link on this page.
It’s no secret that divorces aren’t cheap if you go through a court of law. One of the expenses in these cases is the lawyer. Although this individual is critical if you want a strong case, not everyone has the money to afford one.
For the best results, find a pro bono or low-income lawyer to help you without the high cost of other professionals. Although they’re trickier to locate, it’s possible to find a lawyer who will do work for a low cost if you qualify.
If you’re looking for a pro bono or low-income divorce lawyer, keep reading to determine the best way to find one.
Legal Aid Vs. Pro Bono
First, let’s define legal aid versus pro bono lawyers for a divorce case. Although they assist those who qualify, they are not the same in what they offer.
Legal aid refers to legal professionals offering services to those who qualify. Most of the time, clients who qualify are low-income. These lawyers are experts in various areas of the law low-income individuals may encounter, such as consumer law and welfare matters. Typically, they are hunting for cases with legal reform as a result.
Pro bono is different. This term refers to lawyers who do their work for free at no cost to the client they represent. Typically, every lawyer will work in some pro bono case at some point in their careers to help as many people as they can and get a taste of working without pay for the sake of justice.
Most of the time, law firms that offer pro bono cases take safe options and complete them to market themselves to others. Lawyers that are solely pro bono typically aren’t as quick, but firms offering random pro bono cases are an incredible exception and should provide quality representation.
Legal aid and pro bono are both helpful. However, only one requires no money on your end.
How To Find a Pro Bono/Low-Income Divorce Lawyer
It used to be much trickier to find a pro bono or low-income divorce lawyer, but with the internet, it’s easier than ever. There are more eyeballs and more options.
There are several ways you can find a pro bono or low-income divorce lawyer in your area. Although it might take a bit more hunting than with a traditional legal professional, it’s worth it for a lower cost to free yourself from your marriage.
Reach Out To The State Bar Association
The first thing you should do is contact the State Bar Association. Typically, they will have a list of qualified lawyers who offer pro bono or low-income services to those in need, particularly those trying to divorce in a court of law.
There are two types of lawyers typically offering these services pro bono. It could be a new attorney looking to get experience under their belt or an experienced professional looking to do free law work for the benefit of others.
Most of the time, secondary services are saved for people who don’t have enough money to cover the costs. You’ll need to prove yourself to them financially if you qualify.
Try Court-Ordered Spousal Support
Another option is to look into court-ordered spousal support. When there is a divorce, one spouse often makes much more money than the other, leaving the partner with less money to dry when considering legal fees. The court may use that difference to help you get the lawyer necessary for your needs.
If the higher-earning spouse is better off by a large margin, the judge could order them to pay legal fees for you. If a judge makes this decision, a lawyer should take the case for you once they are covered financially.
In some cases, the judge will demand the spouse may pay a portion of the fees. You will pay for part, but the final cost will be much lower.
Think About A Consultation
You might look into a consultation if you don’t qualify for any programs but still need assistance with a lowered cost. Many divorce lawyers allow clients to consult with them one time to talk about the potential for reduced fees.
Know what the lawyer charges for what amount of time before going in. With a single attempt to get a reduced fee, you don't want to mess up your shot. Have a plan in mind and proceed with your thoughts professionally during the consultation session.
Consider Courthouse Facilitators
Courthouse facilitators are a slight step down from a lawyer, but they will provide legal assistance if you really can’t pay for a lawyer. All you need to do is call the courthouse and request them. They will be there to assist you with handling the case by yourself.
Courthouse facilitators will help you file on your own behalf without a lawyer. They will put paperwork in the proper locations and calculate the ideal numbers for various disputes. Both parties should be on board with the courthouse facilitator, or the poorer spouse will be at a severe disadvantage in negotiating and leveraging opportunities in the divorce.
Look For Legal Aid Offices
If you’re looking for legal aid instead of pro bono services, look online or contact a local hotline to determine if there are any legal aid offices in your area. They should have access to attorneys who work with those in a lower income bracket.
Most legal aid offices will put callers in contact with legal aid lawyers based on their personal needs. Income, job, and other factors will determine whether or not a lawyer based on legal aid will help you or not. Each has varying qualifications for the people they will assist.
Call A Legal Hotline
A legal hotline is a final option if you’ve exhausted everything else and aren’t sure where to go next. Many legal hotlines offer advice and direction for those in low-income brackets. They will assist with divorce and plenty of additional troubles.
The best way to find the right legal hotline is to do a quick search online. There are national hotlines, but it’s best to stick with those in your state. Every state has different regulations, and a legal hotline outside your state may not be an ideal help for your case.
There should be some form of pro bono or low-income legal assistance in your area. The legal hotline will direct you to the proper phone line or website for contact.
Maybe you’ve exhausted all your options and you can’t find a pro bono or low-income lawyer to work for you. There may be no available professionals in your area, or you might make slightly too much to receive assistance. Luckily, there are other opportunities for affordable legal assistance for your divorce.
It might take a little bit of negotiation, but there are some excellent secondary options. Let’s go over some backups if locating a pro bono or low-income divorce lawyer falls flat on its face.
Work Out A Payment Plan
If you make too much money, it might not be possible to find a low-income or pro bono divorce lawyer. However, there are still options to reduce the cost. One of the most popular choices is the payment plan.
Many lawyers understand the high cost of hiring a divorce lawyer. They might be willing to work out a payment plan so you don’t have to give them all the money upfront. You might even be able to work out a monthly payment option.
A payment plan will take negotiation. It’s up to the lawyer to decide if they want to do it, as it requires trust. Speak to them in person, laying out your case and situation. You can even have a payment plan idea to help them feel confident you are trustworthy.
Ask About Contingency Fees
Contingency fees are another option. Some lawyers charge no matter what happens, but others may be willing to accept payment only if they win the case for you. If you win, they will get a percentage of any money or property you earn.
Unfortunately, many divorce cases do not permit lawyers to charge contingency fees. The most common case for a contingency fee is in personal injury cases. However, it doesn’t hurt to ask to see if you can work something out for a more affordable and practical payment option if they win for you.
Ponder A Younger Lawyer
Finally, consider hiring a younger lawyer to take on your divorce case. They are new to the scene and likely fresh out of law school, so they typically charge much less than a lawyer with years of professional experience in the courtroom.
Of course, taking a chance with a younger lawyer is a gamble. Ensure you speak with them to determine if the risk of using their knowledge outweighs the benefit of saving money.
Reference Legal Explanations
If you use any of the definitions, information, or data presented on Legal Explanations, please copy the link or reference below to properly credit us as the reference source. Thank you!
"How to Find Low-Income-Pro Bono Divorce Lawyers". Legal Explanations. Accessed on December 9, 2023. https://legal-explanations.com/blog/how-to-find-low-income-pro-bono-divorce-lawyers/.
"How to Find Low-Income-Pro Bono Divorce Lawyers". Legal Explanations, https://legal-explanations.com/blog/how-to-find-low-income-pro-bono-divorce-lawyers/. Accessed 9 December, 2023
How to Find Low-Income-Pro Bono Divorce Lawyers. Legal Explanations. Retrieved from https://legal-explanations.com/blog/how-to-find-low-income-pro-bono-divorce-lawyers/.