Eliminating Financiers from the Equation: A Call for Court-Mandated Fee Shifting in Divorces

Bibeane Metsch-Garcia*

Divorce can be prohibitively costly. Many struggle or simply cannot afford to pay divorce attorneys’ fees, and the economic effects of divorce on women are particularly acute. In the past few years, financing firms have emerged to fund nonmonied spouses, mostly women, who cannot afford to litigate divorces from their wealthy spouses. The services provided come with a hefty price tag: firms take large fees, and their involvement may lead to unethical and potentially damaging practices. This Note explains what third-party divorce finance firms are and why the use of firms is problematic, and offers an alternative, more equitable method of financing nonmonied spouses’ divorce fees. Courts, not financing firms, should address any disparities in ability to pay between spouses. Mandatory fee shifting by courts would obviate the need for these financing firms that improperly profit from divorce and whose services come with many unwelcome strings attached.

* J.D. Candidate, May 2015, University of Michigan Law School. I would like to thank Joseph Aviv for his invaluable comments and support, Samuel Leifer, the Michigan Law Review Notes Office, the rest of the Michigan Law Review staff, Matthew Evans, and Stephanie Goldfarb. Thank you also to my mother, father, and brother.

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