Thinking about divorce? Have questions? Our Attorneys are here with answers.
How are the children going to react? Where will we live? And, can I even afford a divorce here in New Jersey?
Perhaps that’s the first question you should ask yourself. Some people don’t investigate any further. They figure that the old rhyming saying, “It’s cheaper to keep her,” will be true. But is that really true? If you need to buy a better car, you would examine your finances, and you would find a way to pay for it.
So perhaps the question to ask is, How badly do I need to divorce? Am I serious about this or just tossing ideas around? From years of family law, we have found that when someone has to get divorced, they do it, and nothing gets in their way. They find the money. They start thinking about where they would live. They consider how they’ll tell the children. They just figure it out.
Not that I’m suggesting that you plow ahead without doing your research. You need to hunt for all the resources available to you to finance your divorce. If you’re not ready for a divorce, then you’re not ready. But if you are ready, you can afford it. You’ll figure out a way to pay for it.
Finding Ways to Finance and Afford a Divorce in NJ
Funds from a Joint or Separate Bank Account
This is the obvious first place to look. You can use funds in a joint account or the separate account to pay for legal help. Just be aware that any funds you use will be subject to equitable distribution in the divorce. Often couples agree to split the accounts and use their own share for their own counsel fees. Sometimes one party is required to contribute to the other one’s counsel fees. That usually doesn’t happen at the very beginning of a case and sometimes doesn’t happen at all. But savings accounts are places where you can find money just to get started. The details get sorted out later.
Credit Card to Fund all or a Portion of your Divorce
These are convenient but might not be the most desirable way to finance your divorce. If you have a lot of credit available, you may be able to finance your entire divorce on credit cards. Bear in mind, though, that if you are going to get a share of assets, such as equity from the house or other investments that you can sell later, you will be able to pay off the credit cards later. Credit cards can especially help in the beginning, when you must pay an initial retainer. If you apply for new credit cards, you can ensure that you have enough available credit in the event you need more.
Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit included in Equitable Distribution
Many people already have an open line of credit or funds from a home equity loan. Be aware, though, that any funds you use against the home will be considered later as part of the equitable distribution. For example, if you took $4,000 from the equity, it may be considered as part of your share of the house unless you agree to something different when the time comes to settle your case. If you don’t already have a line of credit on the home and own your home jointly with your spouse, you will need your spouse’s consent and cooperation to open one. If the house is in your spouse’s name, and you cannot get his or her consent to open a line of credit, you can apply to the court to force them to do so.
Mutual funds cash components or liquidation
Brokerage accounts, stocks, or bonds can be liquidated or partially liquidated to obtain cash. Many of these accounts already have a cash component, so you may already have cash available. If these accounts are in your spouse’s name, the court can order him or her to liquidate the account and distribute it to both of you for counsel fees.
Liquidate Retirement Accounts
It is prevalent for divorcing couples to liquidate retirement accounts like a 401(k), IRA, or Roth IRA, to pay for fees. It’s not the most desirable situation because there may be taxes and penalties that apply, but if you really need the money, as many people do, it is an option. Sometimes it’s possible to take a loan against your retirement plan without incurring taxes or penalties. You can consult with your accountant or financial adviser to make sure.
Loan Against 401K, or IRA to borrow and payback
While you can’t cash out a pension-like, you can a 401(k) or IRA; often, you can take a loan against it. There are restrictions on how much you can borrow and how to pay it back, but you may want to explore this option. Your financial adviser or Plan Administrator are the best people to ask for more information.
Whole Life Insurance Equity or Borrow Against
If you have one of these policies, you may have equity that you can cash out or borrow against. Term policies don’t have this option.
Personal Loan through a bank, friend, or family member
You can apply for a loan at a bank. It’s also common for people to borrow from a friend or family member.
Divorce Loans assembled to meet your needs specifically
There are many loan options available, including through third-party lenders like eFinance Solution. If none of the other options above is possible, this is another option.
Even if you don’t have much cash or have a lot of debt, you can rest assured that many people before figured out a way to get a divorce. If you really need one, you will figure it out too.
Our Monmouth and Ocean County Divorce Attorneys are here to guide you and explain all of your options.
If you live in Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas you need help evaluating your circumstances and figuring out how you can finance a divorce, or if you want to know more about how divorce works in general, do not hesitate to reach out.
Give us a call at Bronzino Law Firm at (732) 812-3102 for a free consultation. At a minimum, a consultation will afford you the knowledge and information on how to begin the process and what to expect along the way. You are not alone!