7 Common Ways to Pay for Divorce

From filing fees to attorney fees, divorce costs add up. To find what’s best for you, here are seven common ways people pay for Wisconsin divorces:

  1. Personal Savings or Joint Accounts
  2. Borrowing from Family or Friends
  3. Using a Credit Card
  4. Getting a Personal Loan
  5. Taking Out a 401(k) Loan
  6. Cashing Out a Retirement Account
  7. Using Non-Marital Property

How finances work and how assets get split are two of the most important topics in a divorce. In Wisconsin, most assets are marital property, so they have to be divided 50/50 between both parties. But then the question is–if everything is getting split, where can the money you use to pay for your divorce come from?

It’s important to know your options, so that you decide based on what is best for you.

How to Pay for Your Divorce in Wisconsin

Below are seven of the most common ways people pay for their divorces. Everyone’s situation is different, so many people tend to use a mix of options. Whether it’s paying for some with savings and putting some on a credit card or taking some from your retirement and borrowing the rest from a family member, every option has its positives and negatives.

A good attorney such as one from Sterling Lawyers will be able to help you assess your options because they have seen people use many different options. Most of these options can also help if you are going through a different kind of family law case such as a child custody case.

Personal Savings or Joint Accounts

If you have the savings to pay for an attorney, that’s a great option because it won’t incur any interest like a loan or credit card. Before using your savings, you also want to think about all the costs that will come after the divorce. It may be better to hold onto part of your savings for something that you have to pay for using cash.

Because Wisconsin is a marital property state, they will treat personal and joint savings accounts the same. This means that if you use money from one of these to pay for your attorney, the other party gets an equal amount from the marital estate.

Also, if you use a joint account, know that the other party could see if you withdrew a large amount. When deciding which option is best for you, it is also important to think about your safety.

Borrowing from Family or Friends

Borrowing from family or friends is a great option if your support system has the finances to help out. It can be really hard and even embarrassing to ask them for money, but the people who love you want to see you in a better situation.

The positive of this is similar to using savings in that you won’t have to pay interest on this money. The drawbacks are that not everyone has someone who can help them, and that it can be hard to ask for this kind of help.

Using a Credit Card

Paying an attorney with a credit card is common, but not always the best option. Credit cards have high interest rates, and how much you can pay with them depends on your limit. However, credit cards are convenient and don’t have to create debt if you are able to pay them off in a timely fashion.

Getting a Personal Loan

Personal loans can be intimidating because a lot of people don’t have a lot of experience with them. However, they often have better interest rates than credit cards. If you are interested in this option, it is best to look at more than one lender to see who has the best deal. The downside is that of course they are still loans and so will have interest.

Personal loans are also usually better than loans with collateral. For example, if you wanted to take out a home equity line of credit, the collateral is your house which is most likely a marital asset. Because it is a marital asset it can get really complicated really quickly. If you are interested in something like this, talk about it with your attorney to decide what to do.

Taking Out a 401(k) Loan

Another option is getting a loan from your 401(k). This option is of course only open to people who have a substantial 401(k). Speak to your account holder to get exact information for you. Generally for these loans, you get an interest rate that you pay back to yourself, you can only get up to 50% of the total amount in your account, and you have to pay it back within five years.

Cashing Out a Retirement Account

Cashing out a retirement account is usually something not recommended because it can severely set you back. It can ruin your plans for retirement, and a lot of people forget about the taxes that have to be paid on it.

If you don’t cash it out, the retirement account will be considered in the property division process. But the division of a retirement account is usually more in your favor than the division of cash.

Using Non-Marital Property

Non-marital property is the property owned by only one party, so it isn’t split during the divorce. One example of non-marital property is an inheritance. If you use an inheritance to pay for your divorce, the other party doesn’t have to get an equal amount from the marital assets. You can also fund your divorce by selling non-marital assets.

For Immediate help with your family law case or answering any questions please call (262) 221-8123 now!

Getting Money from Temporary Orders

In some cases, one party takes care of the finances, and the other party doesn’t have access to the marital accounts. If this is the case, the other party can be ordered to give them access or give them money in the temporary orders. This money can then be used to pay for an attorney if need be. Another time when the other party could be ordered to give you money is if they cleared out a joint bank account after they found out about the divorce.

What If You Can’t Afford a Divorce Lawyer

If you cannot afford an attorney and none of the above options will work for you, there are a couple options available. The one most people do is they decide to represent themselves. This takes a lot of time to do well because you still have to do things correctly and follow the relevant laws and statutes. If the other party also doesn’t have an attorney, representing yourself is easier.

If you are representing yourself, you may also be able to get advice from an attorney at crucial times in the divorce. This is cheaper than full representation because they only meet with you when you need it. If this is also not a good option for you, you can look for a pro bono attorney. Pro bono attorneys can be hard to find because there are often a lot of people who need their services.

Are you ready to move forward? Call (262) 221-8123 to schedule a strategy session with one of our attorneys.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who pays for a divorce in Wisconsin?

Generally, each party pays for their own attorney in a divorce. The filing party has to pay the filing fees, but the responding party also has a fee they pay. To pay for your divorce you can use joint funds, get help from family, take out a loan, or any of the other options listed above.
When thinking about paying for divorce, it is also important to know how much your divorce will cost.

How long does divorce take in Wisconsin?

How long a divorce takes depends on the specifics of your case. For example, a case with more assets to split or with children will take longer than one without. The biggest determinant of how long your divorce will take is how much you and the other party can agree.

How do you file for divorce in Wisconsin?

To file for a divorce in Wisconsin, you need to fill out the correct paperwork then file it with your county’s clerk of courts. After that, the other party needs to be served, then an initial court date can be set.

Do I need an attorney to file for divorce?

You do not need an attorney to file for divorce. However, if you do have an attorney, the process is usually much easier. It is easier because they can walk you through the process and do much of it for you.

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