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You have the right to a lawyer as a dependent spouse in New York

On Behalf of | Sep 8, 2021 | High Asset Divorce |

Your spouse makes six or seven figures a year, while you either don’t work at all to raise your children, or you only work a part-time job with a much lower income. Especially if you have student loans or want custody of your children, you may feel like it would be financially irresponsible to file for divorce. 

Dependents spouses in high-income families often feel like they have no choice but to stay in a marriage, even if the higher-earning spouse cheats on them or abuses them. They may worry about no longer being competitive in the job market or the courts denying them custody because they can’t afford their own home. 

The spouse with the lower income in a high-asset divorce may assume that they won’t have any legal representation or only what they can afford with their meager income. Thankfully, that is not always the case in New York.

Dependent spouses can ask their ex to pay for their lawyer

Trying to make divorce accessible and equitable requires rules that address the economic disparities in modern marriages. Otherwise, the spouse who earned more would be the one who got to make all the decisions, and the one with the lower or no income would remain effectively trapped in the marriage regardless of their actual wishes. 

You can petition the courts have your ex pay for your attorney fees. Provided that the court agrees that your spouse makes enough to cover those costs and that you do not, you can potentially retain your attorney at your ex’s expense. Even if your ex doesn’t want to get divorced, the responsibility for those costs could still fall on them. 

Learning more about your rights in a high-asset New York divorce can help you protect yourself.