I am a stay at home wife and mother who now wants a divorce but has no money- should I represent myself because I can’t afford a lawyer? This is a lament I often hear from women. You can afford a lawyer and you NEED a lawyer.
Marriage is a partnership where one or both parties contribute outside employment income. You may be putting money into a joint account or individual accounts- it doesn’t matter because all money earned during the marriage is a marital asset. Don’t listen when your husband says its his money because he earns it. First, you should be offended because he has placed no value on your contribution to caring for the house and the children. Second repeat to him and to you- this is a partnership, 50/50- we each contribute to this marriage.
You can take the money out of the joint account to pay for an attorney. You can take out all of the money or part of it- but you will need to account for the money when the marital assets are inventoried but so will he. (Do take out enough to keep paying bills, buying food and paying for other family expenses.) Your husband can’t leave your family without support but you’ll need a court order to make him continue supporting the family and paying for the house.
I had a client who believed she owned nothing- all of the money in their accounts was “his” and “his” money paid for the house. When she divorced him all she got was child support- she did not have a lawyer because she thought she had no money to pay for legal representation. Because she was”gas lighted” by her husband she lost $50,000 equity in their house, a portion of all of the marital assets, and no alimony (which she was entitled to). A lawyer can handle your case from beginning to end or assist you with the parts of your case your feel that you are competent to handle. You can’t afford not to hire an attorney!