I can’t afford a Virginia divorce lawyer

Posted on Feb 4, 2019 by Katie Carter

Legal representation is expensive. I get it. And it’s often especially scary because, at the beginning of a case, it is difficult to know how far and how long it’ll go. Family law attorneys take cases on retainers, and work is done on an hourly basis. We don’t know how long a case will last, or what it will take, before all is said and done.
And with some cases – like custody, appeals, or enforcement of an agreement – things can pop up later on down the line, even after you’ve spent money negotiating an agreement or litigating all the way through to a big contested trial.

Will anyone take my case pro bono?

We get a LOT of questions about pro bono cases. I mean, obviously. You’re in a scary situation, money is tight, and it’s nice to think that there’s a legal fairy godmother out there who can take your case on, from beginning to end, for free.

…That’s really not a thing, though. Though there’s Legal Aid (and I encourage you to contact them just to see whether there’s any advice or services that they can offer you), most attorneys in private practice don’t just take entire cases on pro bono. Like I said before – we often don’t know how long a case is going to go on, or what it’s going to cost! It’s very difficult to make a decision to take an entire case on for free.

Very few people work for free. We all have mortgages, children, and many of us (certainly almost every attorney I know) have student loans, too. Though most of us went to law school to make a difference in the world, very few of us can afford to work completely free. It’s just an unfortunate reality of the world.

Does your office do any pro bono?

That being said, we do, of course, sometimes do pro bono work, though we rarely (if ever) take an entire case on for free. Even if that isn’t the news that you hoped to hear, I imagine that you can probably understand.

We do, however, do a LOT to help the community, and to ensure that Virginia women get the divorce information that they need to make careful, informed choices that protect themselves and their children.

Second Saturday Divorce Seminars

Our Second Saturday divorce seminars are taught twice a month, on the Second Saturday of the month in both Virginia Beach and Newport News, and the Third Tuesday of each month in Virginia Beach.

Each seminar is an hour and a half long, and is taught by one of our licensed and experienced Virginia divorce attorneys. We aren’t compensated for our time, so it is pro bono service for us. The seminar costs $50 at the door, or $40 if you pre-register, but that fee goes exclusively to facility rentals, printing costs, and other similar expenses. The Second Saturday program is not profit generating; any fees we receive go right back into the program.

We also accept fee waiver applications from licensed mental health professionals, Legal Aid, and victim aid programs. If you’re seeing a therapist, or you’ve worked with, for example, a victim advocate at a domestic violence shelter, or even a counselor at Fleet and Family or other similar military program, you can request that your counselor/advocate/therapist contact our office and make a fee waiver request on your behalf. We’re happy to accommodate.

It’s a really valuable seminar, and it’s full of tons of information. It’s also – like a consultation – a great place to ask your questions and get information directly from a divorce and custody attorney (just like you would if you came into our office).

You can learn more about Second Saturday divorce seminars HERE.

Custody Bootcamp for Moms

Our Custody Bootcamp for Moms seminar is an intense, all day seminar designed to teach Virginia moms what they need to know to represent themselves (or check up on their attorney, if they’re represented by counsel) in a custody case at the juvenile court level.

This is a much more comprehensive seminar, so the cost to attend is $197.

We offer one scholarship per seminar, so, if you’re interested in applying to receive that scholarship, send an email to us at office@hoflaw.com with the subject line “Custody Bootcamp for Moms Scholarship Application.” Include a brief summary of your case, and describe why you think you’d benefit from attending our seminar.
Again, our attorneys aren’t compensated for their time, so this constitutes some of our pro bono service.

Divorce and Custody Books, Free Reports, and Other Information

We also have a ton of free information on our website. Blogs and articles like this one (which you can find in our library), as well as books and free reports on a variety of topics. It’s all available to you free of charge, and it was all written by one of our licensed and experienced Virginia divorce and custody attorneys (and sometimes more than one).

If you’ve got a lot of questions or are just trying to figure out where to start, this is definitely a great place.

Aren’t attorneys REQUIRED to do pro bono service?

No. We’re not.

We have rules that we’re required to follow, but we are not required to perform pro bono service. It’s encouraged, but not required.

It’s important to us, though, so all of our attorneys make time to perform a lot of pro bono service each year, mostly through our seminars. We’ve also worked hard to create a website that is literally chock full of tons of super valuable information that you can’t get so easily anywhere else.

I know it’s scary. I know you’re overwhelmed and not sure where to turn. I definitely recommend starting with one of our free books (or two!) to begin to gather information. After you’ve had a chance to read the books – including taking notes and writing in the margins – it’s probably time to attend a divorce and/or custody seminar, taking advantage of a fee waiver or scholarship if you can.

After that, you’ll be in a great position to plan your next steps. Whether you talk to someone at Legal Aid, find an attorney that is within your price range, ask for assistance from family and friends, or choose to represent yourself, you’ll have the information you need to make the best decision possible.

I know it isn’t easy. But we’re here to help, and hope we can, at the very least, point you in the right direction. If you have any more questions or need any more information about our free resources or how to get the legal help you need, give our office a call at 757-425-5200.