A question that many people that are involved with divorces in Calgary ask their divorce lawyers is: How can I fund my divorce in Calgary if I have no money?
From my experience as a divorce lawyer in Calgary, the answer to that question surprises many people.
The first option is to consider Legal Aid. If a party qualifies for Legal Aid, Legal Aid will appoint a lawyer to represent that party. Legal Aid mandates the hourly rate that such a lawyer may charge, which is considerably lower than most divorce lawyers in Calgary would charge to their privately paying clients.
Another option is to pay a Calgary divorce lawyer privately, but to ask them to defer payment of their accounts until after the matter is finalized. This will be considered by divorce lawyers in Calgary if there are assets with a significant value to be divided. The lawyer would normally ask the client to allow them to register a caveat against the former matrimonial home, so as to ensure that they have some form of security to ensure that their accounts are paid.
Another option is to make an immediate Application for either child support, or spousal support and, if that Application is successful, that may provide enough income to enable the party to pay their lawyer.
Another option is to make an Application for an interim advance of the funds that will be due to the party once the division of matrimonial property has occurred. This will be possible if there are significant assets to be divided, or if one party has sole access to assets that are undoubtedly matrimonial property. The Court in Calgary is quite happy to ensure the parties are facing an even playing field, when it comes to funding the litigation, so as to ensure that one party is not disadvantaged. The lump sum payment that is produced can then be used to pay that party's legal fees. If those funds run out, there is nothing to prevent the same party from bringing another Application.
It is also possible to ask the Court to award costs against the other party to defray one's own legal fees. This can be done for individual Applications, or for the entire Action. As costs are in the complete discretion of the Court, the Court will determine whether costs are to be paid and, if so, the amount of those costs.
If you have any questions regarding the above, or if you would like to contact me to discuss issues regarding child support, spousal support, division of matrimonial property, divorce, separation, custody and access or guardianship and parenting, please use this email address, or call me on 403-538-2105.