Divorce too expensive? Try crowdfunding it

Divorce, Bizarre, Money, NakedLaw, Relationships

Crowdfunding is great for starting a business or for soliciting charitable donations, but how about paying for your divorce? Plumfund, a site that offers crowdfunding for just about anything you can imagine, has added a “divorce registry.” If you’re getting a divorce, you can go there and create a registry of things you need (your ex took the couch, so you need a new one), ask for help with living expenses (you can’t afford the mortgage or rent on your income alone), or request assistance with the costs of your unhitching (your attorney’s fees, for example).

Crowdfunding grows in popularity

Plumfund isn’t the only site capitalizing on divorces. Dedicating Dollars or Funded Justice for example, have also created divorce-funding pages. It’s no surprise sites are willing to try divorce funding since popularity has been growing for other types of donation-based appeals—over $5.5 billion was raised in that category in 2015 alone. How much of a market there really is, however, remains to be seen—giving to charitable causes and helping someone pay for a divorce lawyer are rather different things, after all.

Ways to pay for a divorce

Paying for a divorce can be a challenge. An Avvo study in 2013 revealed the average cost of a divorce (just for the legal fees and court costs) was $15,000. Add in the expenses of moving and replacing household items, the income lost while attending court, and ongoing child support or alimony payments, and the price of divorce skyrockets. Faced with these towering costs, many people drain their savings, borrow from family or friends, work out an installment plan with their lawyer, or borrow against their 401(k).

All of those options can simply dig the financial hole even deeper in the long run, creating a load of debt or an underfunded retirement. Crowdfunding solves the problem – in theory, anyway – by giving you essentially free money. The donations are given as a gift: there are no strings attached and no debt incurred.

How to successfully crowdfund your divorce

There’s an art to crowdfunding. For starters, your appeal has to resonate with people. This means you’ve got to share some of the dirty details of your divorce, and you most likely need to paint yourself as the victim. The most successful crowdfunding appeals include videos, so you will want to take the time to create one that is good quality and in which you speak from the heart. Manipulative though it may be, you’re more likely to get donations if you can make viewers feel guilty about how good their family lives are while you are going through this awful divorce.

And remember, you’re asking people for money, so they’ll want to know why you need it: provide details about your financial situation and explain how you are going to use the money. Also, you can’t just put up your appeal and walk away. You need to actively promote it by updating your progress and thanking each donor, and by asking your social media friends to tell your story and provide links to your crowdfunding campaign.

Crowdfunding risks

Free money sounds good, but crowdfunding your divorce isn’t without potential downsides. Any time you put anything online about your divorce, it’s a safe bet that your ex is going to see it and it may get brought up in court. So don’t say anything that could hurt your case. In particular, you should be careful about shielding your children and avoid making them players in your crowdfunding, at least by name or image.

Another concern with crowdfunding is that you are required to provide complete financial disclosure to the court and to your soon-to-be-ex spouse. Consequently, you’ll have to include any crowdfunded donations you receive while the divorce is in progress, which could affect your percentage of the marital financial settlement. Even if you wait to put your campaign up after the divorce is final it could still increase your income and therefore impact any child support calculations.

Crowdfunding offers a novel way to ease the financial burden of divorce, but if you choose to pursue it, do it carefully and strategically.