EP 61: How to Get Your Spouse to Pay for Your Divorce

Episode 61 of the Divorce and Your Money Show discusses how to get your spouse to pay for your divorce.

Divorce can cost a staggering amount of money.  You’ll have a divorce attorney, their legal team, a financial team, and sometimes psychologists or counselors.  All of these costs can add up, and you may not be able to pay for everything. That’s especially true if you’re a homemaker or are otherwise unemployed.

Luckily, there are several ways to get your spouse to pay for a divorce.  There is the easy way, and of course, there’s the hard way.  If your relationship is good (and the divorce was a mutual decision), you can simply ask your spouse to cover the costs on your end and work out your own arrangements.  However, if your spouse is unwilling (or it’s a complicated divorce), then there are legal provisions that can assist you.

Almost every state has a provision to have the higher-earning spouse pay for the cost of the divorce.  The specific criteria will be different state-to-state, and the courts will judge on a case basis. But generally, they’ll want to know if you have access to money and an income—and that the other spouse can really afford to pay for the divorce.  A good attorney should know the state laws and have an idea about your specific situation.

If the court rules in your favor, you may qualify for what’s called an Advance on an Equitable Distribution.  That means that if you’re going to be owed alimony or child support, you can have an initial lump sum available to you—to pay for the cost of the divorce.  However, you’ll have to pay those funds back over time—via deductions on the payments you receive later.

If you can work out the costs of the divorce with your spouse beforehand and avoid the courts, that’s the easiest way.  However, if the divorce is complicated, there are legal provisions if you qualify for them.  Make sure your divorce attorney knows about these options.  If they don’t, perhaps you should look for another one.

Key Learning Points:

  • Your spouse can pay for your attorney, financial team, and psychologist if they’re the primary earner.
  • The easy way is to ask the spouse to pay for the costs if the relationship is good.  However, there are legal provisions for complicated divorces.
  • Almost every state has a provision for the higher-earning spouse paying for the costs.
  • A good attorney will know the pertinent state laws.
  • You can receive an Advance on an Equitable Distribution (i.e., an advance on a settlement, which you’ll have to pay back later.

Thank you for listening to the Divorce and Your Money Show. We hope the show helps you through one of the most difficult periods of your life. Shawn Leamon is also author of Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide. One-on-one financial coaching services are available at www.divorceandyourmoney.com.

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Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA

Dallas, Texas

Shawn C. H. Leamon is Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, a firm that helps successful families manage large financial transitions like divorce, inheritance and selling a business.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, double majoring in Economics and Philosophy, and his Masters in Business Administration at Spain’s IE Business School.

Before founding LaGrande Global, Shawn helped manage $1.1 billion in client assets at Bernstein Global Wealth Management. He also worked as a credit research analyst at J.P. Morgan. He is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and he has been an advisor to numerous high-stakes divorce cases.

Shawn is the author of two well-received finance books: Managing Private Wealth: Principles, and Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide, both published in 2016.

In his spare time, Shawn is an ultra-endurance athlete and has competed in events as long as 24 hours. He is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Alumni Board of Greenhill School.