money coming out of purse to pay attorney fees

Help! My Attorney Dropped Me Because I Can’t Afford Her Fees

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My Attorney Dropped Me Because I Can’t Afford Her, What Can I Do?


I had, what I thought was a great attorney, until she dropped me because I could no longer afford her fees.  Can she do that? My husband earns $200,000 and I only bring home $100,000. How can I earn more money to pay my attorney

I am so lost and now I have to start all over again.


Hi Susan,

This happens more often than we like to think it does.  In answer to your question – yes, your attorney can drop you because you can no longer afford her.  However, it should not get to this point.

For those of you reading this, please take note. Always, always, always let your attorney know what you earn and set out a payment schedule.  Usually there is a retainer, but what happens when that is depleted?  You need to know all of this up front.

This scenario has nothing to do with what you earn, rather more about the disparity between your and your husband’s salaries. I worked with a woman once who was flat broke, due to attorney fees and other expenses her husband created for her,  and she was a surgeon who earned $300,000 a year.  Her husband was an executive who earned $1.6 million dollars per year.

What I don’t want you or anyone to become and that is what I call “Attorney Poor.”   One of my attorneys literally thanked me for her luxurious resort vacation!!!  Attorneys will instruct you to borrow their fees on your credit cards and take second jobs to pay them.  Don’t do it.

You need to establish clearly what you are able to afford, straight away, BEFORE you contract with the attorney. If your husband earns quite a bit more than you, your attorney can ask the courts for him to pay most or part of your legal fees. This still means you will have to come up with a retainer, but some of the fees should be paid by your husband.  Its not equitable for him to walk away with marital assets that enable him to afford better legal representation than you.

Susan, I don’t know what your relationship is with your attorney at this point. If it is a good one and the issue is money only, see if you can work something out with her.  Make some of the suggestions I have offered. If she is not budging, the money may not be her only issue with you.   Often, in high conflict divorces, the attorney recognizes that the process will get dragged out and dragged out divorces usually end up bankrupting someone and no attorney wants to have put a  high dollar account into collections with the knowledge that it most likely will never be paid.

If you03/07 have to retain another attorney, use the strategy that I have offered here.  When you have everything laid out on the table – money wise, the likelihood of the attorney dropping you because you can’t afford his/her fees is reduced significantly.
Susan Shofer Divorce Consultant

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