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How to get a loan to cover divorce costs
6 options when you're struggling to pay your legal fees out of pocket.
Divorces can be expensive, but you don’t necessarily need to have the funds on hand to cover the cost. Attorney payment plans, personal loans and funds from your joint bank account are just a few options that can help you cover the heavy financial burden. Plus, there are ways to cut down on divorce fees from the beginning to avoid a large bill at the end.
How can I finance a divorce?
You have several options to cover the cost of your divorce when you don't have the money up front.
Compare financing options
Should I get a divorce loan?
A divorce can be extremely disruptive to your personal finances — and throwing more debt into the mix might not be the best idea. But it could be a good option if you have a lot at stake in the proceedings. Taking out a loan can help you afford better legal representation and in some cases may even pay for itself.
If you go with a lender like SoFi, you can also access resources like free financial advice. But you'll generally need to have a good credit score of at least 670, steady income and few personal debts to qualify. If you relied on your spouse for income, this might not be the best option unless you have a cosigner.
Pros and cons of divorce loans
Take in these benefits and drawbacks before you decide to take out a loan to pay for your divorce.
- Hire better representation. Taking out a loan opens you up to more options for your legal team and helps you build the best possible defense for yourself.
- Maintain your lifestyle. If your former spouse has most of your assets, a loan can help tide you over while you get back on your feet.
- Less expensive than a credit card. Personal loans tend to come with lower rates than credit cards
- No collateral required. Most personal loans are unsecured, meaning you don’t have to put any assets on the line to qualify.
- Increases monthly expenses. If you’re living on an already-limited budget, a divorce loan can tighten it even more.
- Makes it harder to get other credit. If you need a new car or a new home, taking out a personal loan can make it difficult to finance those costs.
- Few options for bad or no credit. While some lenders like Stilt look at factors other than your credit score — like your income, spending and savings habits — generally you need a credit score of at least 670 to qualify.
- Increases total cost of divorce. When you borrow to pay for a divorce, you’re adding interest to something that’s already expensive.
How much does a divorce cost?
The average cost of a divorce is around $15,000, according to a survey by online legal guide Nolo. This number includes court fees, attorney costs and other expenses like having your assets appraised and hiring a tax adviser.
However, how much you actually pay will vary based on several factors, such as where you live, whether your divorce is contested and if you have any children. Uncontested divorces are typically less expensive than contested divorces — you might not need to hire a lawyer or mediator. Having a child can up the bill, since you might need to pay for a child custody evaluation.
Average cost of divorce by state
6 ways to cut back on divorce fees
From avoiding court as much as possible to relying on paralegals when you can, here are a few ways for you to lower your divorce bill:
- File online.Filing online can cut down on attorney and court-appearance fees, meaning you only need to cover filing costs. However, this is usually only an option for uncontested divorces.
- Come to an agreement on your own. An uncontested divorce means you don't need to hire an attorney or get the courts involved in your assets. This can often reduce the cost to a few hundred dollars.
- Spend as little time in court as possible. Appearing in court is where your attorney fees can really add up, especially if your case is delayed and you're paying by the hour.
- Stay away from attorney bundles. Some attorneys offer divorce packages that include multiple services, which you may or may not end up using. Hire an attorney for individual services instead to avoid wasting your money.
- Rely on paralegals when you can. Paralegals can help you with basic legal advice and generally cost less than a divorce lawyer.
- Only go for mediation if you're both serious about it.Mediation might keep you out of court, but it isn't free. And if you can't agree on things, you'll have to repeat the process.
Divorce might not be as expensive as marriage, but it isn't cheap. If you and your spouse don't have $15,000 each up front, using a payment plan or taking out a personal loan could make it easier to shoulder the cost.
You can learn more about how borrowing works by checking out our guide to personal loans.
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