How to Find a Divorce Lawyer if You Can’t Afford One

Request a Consultation

Being unable to afford an attorney during your divorce could put you at a disadvantage – especially if your spouse has already hired one. A San Francisco divorce lawyer can be of great help during a divorce case, guiding you through complex legal processes and family laws in California. If you cannot afford one, however, you have other options. You may be able to get the money you spend on a lawyer back as part of your divorce settlement, or else find an alternative to traditional legal representation that costs less.

List Attorney’s Fees as Part of Your Divorce Demands

It may be possible to request reimbursement for your legal costs and attorney’s fees from your spouse if you cannot afford the lawyer yourself. The judge may order your spouse to pay for your legal fees if you make this request from the beginning of your case. If your spouse intentionally did something to make it more difficult to resolve your divorce case, such as hiding assets, and this is why you needed an experienced divorce attorney, you may also qualify for sanctions. Sanctions are a financial penalty your spouse might owe you during a divorce case as punishment for misconduct that made the divorce more difficult than it otherwise would have been.

Consider Legal Coaching

If you cannot afford to hire a divorce lawyer, consider an alternative that costs less than full-service legal representation: legal coaching. Legal coaching gives you counsel from a licensed family law attorney, but you take care of many of the legal processes yourself to save money on attorney’s fees. Many law firms offer legal coaching as an alternative to full representation during a divorce case. Find a firm that is willing to charge you only for the services it provides rather than its typical fees for taking on a full case (called unbundled legal services). The lawyer may only charge for specific services, a la carte style.

Discuss your needs with a lawyer that offers legal coaching for divorce cases in California. List the services you want the lawyer to take care of, such as document preparation or representing you during a divorce trial. Find out if the lawyer offers these services unbundled, and if so, how much the fees will cost. Let the attorney know your budget and what you can afford to spend on legal coaching. The right attorney will work with you to create a legal coaching relationship at the right price.

Try to Find a Lawyer Who Will Work Pro Bono

It may be possible to find a free divorce lawyer, or one who will take your case pro bono, in California. If you know you cannot afford a divorce attorney through a fee arrangement, search for federally funded programs that offer subsidized legal services. Your income level might qualify you for these services. You could also try to find pro bono representation through your state bar association. Many attorneys grant pro bono divorce representation to individuals based on financial need. A pro bono lawyer could give you all the benefits of legal representation without the legal bill.

Our Awards and Memberships

Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C., recognizes that family law matters involve complex, sensitive issues that can have a lasting impact on you, your family, your finances and your future.

More About Honors & Awards
Arrow Image
10.0 Avvo Superb Top Attorney Family Law, Divorce
Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal
American Jurist Institute Top 10 Attorneys 2017
2022 Client Satisfaction American Institute of Family Law Attorneys 10 Best
100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies In the Bay Area San Francisco Business Times
10 Best Female Attorneys 2017 American Institute of Family Law Attorneys
San Francisco Bay Area's Best and Brightest Companies to Work For Winner 2021
2018 Best Lawyers Best Law Firms U.S. News & World Report
California Board of Legal Specialization (CBLS) State Bar of California
2020 Client Champion Debra R. Schoenberg
San Francisco Business Times Corporate Philanthropy Awards 2019
Expertise Best Divorce Lawyers in Concord 2020
2018 Expertise Best Divorce Lawyers in San Francisco
Fast 100
Lead Counsel Rated
Litigation Counsel of America (LCA) Fellow
National Board of Trial Advocacy
2017 Parents' Press Best of The Bay
San Francisco Business Times
Rated By Super Lawyers Debra R. Schoenberg
The Business of Pride
2021 Best Businesses Three Best Rated
San Francisco Business Times Corporate Philanthropy Awards & Summit
American Jurist Institute Top 10 Attorneys of 2018
Arrow Image