Ask A Divorce Lawyer: Divorce On A Budget

Question: I am typing this after my wife just called me and told me she is filing for divorce. She cheated on me earlier this year. I am trying to forgive her and work on our marriage. She told me she wants a dissolution of marriage and she wants to move our kids from Ohio to Missouri, 8 hours away. She basically wants me to give up my rights to my kids. She said I will have no choice in anything because I am collecting unemployment right now. How can a guy in a tough financial situation begin to fight having his kids taken away from him?


Answer: While the costs of a divorce may be high, the failure to obtain qualified legal advice can be extremely costly in the long run.  You may have a legal assistance program available in your area that has experience in divorce and custody cases. In some states, it is possible for the judge to order one spouse to help pay the legal fees of the other spouse under the theory that the divorce is a cost of the marriage to be shared appropriately by the parties.  You should consult a qualified attorney in your state to review your situation and determine whether you can seek attorney fees from your wife to help pay the cost of resolving the divorce.

As your wife has expressed an intent to move your children to another state, you need to confirm that she has filed for divorce in your state and, if she hasn’t, file your own divorce pleadings and have her served immediately to avoid the possibility of having to litigate your divorce in Missouri or another state.  If you are able to reconcile, you can always dismiss your divorce case at that time.  

Being unemployed presents both issues of your ability to support yourself and your children, but also arguments that you can be the primary caregiver for your children until you obtain employment.  Depending upon the facts of your case, you may be able to seek temporary support for yourself and/or your children from your wife. 



Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.

Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues.

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