The divorce process can be costly, even when spouses maintain amicable relations and choose to file a no-fault divorce. In addition to court and attorney's fees, you may need to hire experts such as a forensic accountant to evaluate a business or retirement accounts. These concerns are especially pressing if you earn less than your spouse, or have primarily been the caretaker of the home and children during the course of the marriage. Aside to paying for the divorce itself, you may be wondering how you can maintain the costs of running your household if your spouse has already moved out. Although some couples elect to settle their divorce through litigation alternatives such as mediation or arbitration, that may not be possible depending on your relationship with your spouse. Furthermore, both mediation and arbitration are non-binding, meaning that your spouse can proceed with litigation at any point. However, there are some ways that you can fund your divorce without running the risk of going into massive debt. If you and your spouse are on speaking terms, it is best to approach them directly with payment arrangements that are mutually beneficial. For example, a couple can choose to split a joint savings or investment account so that each spouse has enough funds to cover divorce expenses and still cover their basic living costs. Couples who are not able to maintain amicable relations can discuss these options with their attorneys, who may have other ideas to offer. Your attorney can help you explore options such as obtaining a loan on your home's equity, which would normally be divided as part of the property settlement. Your attorney can also propose an equitable division of these funds based on factors such as your monthly expenses and child-care costs.
If you and your spouse cannot negotiate a payment arrangement, you may be forced to pay some of the costs through credit cards and personal loans. However, you should discuss all the available options with your attorney before making any final decisions. Although you can bill your attorney's fees on a credit card and file a petition to request that your spouse cover a portion of these costs, there is no guarantee that a judge will approve your application. Your attorney may suggest filing for pendent lite alimony, which is support paid to a spouse from the time that the divorce complaint is filed up to when a divorce agreement is finalized. These funds are strictly for the purpose of helping you maintain your living costs during the divorce process, and should not affect the terms of your alimony payments after the divorce. Since pendent lite alimony is only meant to cover basic necessities, you may have to consider downgrading to a smaller home and cutting back on certain expenses. However, downgrading your lifestyle early on in the divorce process can help you transition quicker to living on your own, without full access to a second income.
For more information on protecting your finances during a divorce, please speak with the knowledgeable divorce lawyers of Villani & DeLuca. Your case will be reviewed by Partner Vincent C. DeLuca, Esq., who has been designated as a Matrimonial Attorney by the Supreme Court of New Jersey—a distinction attained by less than 0.002% of all practicing attorneys in the state. He is also a state certified Economic Mediator, and the only attorney from Ocean County to be a member of the AFCC (Association of Family and Conciliation Courts). Please call (732) 965-3404 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys!