Getting a divorce can become very expensive. According to a survey we conducted, we found that 87% of those who had divorced their narcissist partners had attorney’s fees that were much higher than expected due to all the extra hours required to negotiate. Of those who had been through a divorce, 51% stated they had spent over $10,000 in attorney’s fees and 10% claimed the attorney’s fees skyrocketed past $100,000. Divorce attorney Nicole Noonan founded New Chapter Capital to ensure that more people would be able to access the resources needed to get a divorce. Nicole Noonan has devoted herself to helping others untie the knot and has been deemed the “fairy godmother of divorce” because of this.
Why did you decide to found New Chapter Capital?
“I practiced law where I grew up and I had family friends and their friends (mostly women) that came into my office. They had wonderful lives up until the divorce process started. Many of their husbands would cut off their credit cards. If they didn’t have friends or family to go to, what were they going to do? A lot of them were backed up into taking settlements less than what they were entitled to. This was very unfortunate. I thought to myself that there had to be something else out there that would help these people. I heard about something like this in the UK and Australia and I thought we had to start doing it in the US. That was in 2011 and we’ve just been growing ever since.”
How does New Chapter Capital work?
“The funding is an advance that is taken out against the client’s potential settlement. We work with the law firm and the attorney. We ask that they help put together the application for the client. Our underwriters are sent the application. They try to make an evaluation within three business days because we know time is of the essence. If approved, the money can be used for legal fees, expert costs, and sometimes reasonable living expenses.”
When do you think it’s time for someone to finally get a divorce?
“In my practice, I always ask if couples have tried marriage counseling- especially if there are children involved. However, a lot of people know when it’s time to go. When they come to me, they have usually already met with attorneys. Sometimes they come to me first and they ask me what they should do. I always encourage working on the marriage if possible; however, when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. When you make this decision, it’s time to get prepared.”
What are the options for those who want to be able to afford a divorce with some modicum of dignity?
“People save for their wedding. They plan on having the perfect dress, the perfect caterer, the perfect band, but what could be even more expensive than your wedding is your divorce. People don’t usually save for a divorce. Credit cards are usually an option; however, a lot of our clients do not have a great credit history because their partners were the ones that controlled their finances. This means that their partner was usually the one who was building the credit. A lot of people have never been able to build up any credit history of their own. This makes it hard to go and ask for a line of credit when you don’t have any credit to go off of. You can ask family members or friends but this can often be embarrassing. We are the option for people that don’t have other options. We make the advance and then sometimes at the end, you get your legal fees taken care of through litigation or through mediation where the moneyed spouse ends up paying back the advance that has been made to you. We give people the ability to level the playing field without taking on more stress. With us, you don’t have to make monthly payments. Everything is rolled up and nothing needs to be paid until there’s a settlement.”
Can you tell us about one of your favorite success stories?
“We have a lot of them and I just love the thank you notes and the Christmas cards that we get. I get to see how people grow and write their new chapters. We had a wife come to us a couple of years ago. Her husband had an affair with his best man from their wedding. This was a shock. She stayed in the marriage because she was scared and didn’t know what to do. She didn’t know if she could even afford a divorce. So, I got her the right representation. We got her an advance against her settlement. They divorced and she was actually able to use some of the money to go back to school and to start her own jewelry line. This was amazing. She’s just thriving. She met a new guy and has a beautiful child that she’s getting to enjoy by staying home and developing her beautiful jewelry line. You can see it on her face. She’s just lighter because she was able to take that 100,000 pound elephant off of her back.”
Was the case already going or was she able to find you before the case started?
“She found us first. I was her first phone call. Someone had given her my name. She was based in New York and just didn’t know where to go or what to do. She was scared. She was alone. She was not originally from this country so she didn’t have friends or family here, let alone friends or family to go to for funding.”
Do people have to apply for the loan? Can you walk us through the process?
“It is an application process that we ask for the attorneys to fill out for their clients. There are certain questions that the clients are just not going to be able to answer; so we ask that the attorney fills it out for their clients. Our underwriters are very good at sifting through all of the information and making a determination on what their likely settlement will be. We fund a percentage of what that settlement would be to help level the playing field for the client”
It seems like most of your clients are women. What if the roles are reversed? What if it’s the husband who is the non-moneyed spouse? What if it’s a same-sex couple? Are there gender specifics?
“We have had many, many men come to us and we’ve also had many same sex marriages. There’s usually a non-moneyed and a moneyed spouse. We fund the non-moneyed. We’ve also funded both sides of a divorce, where everything is tied up. Things are often tied up in real estate. Sometimes it may not be the best time to sell a $2 million house during a divorce; but, there’s equity in it. Eventually it’s going to sell. Sometimes we’ll fund both sides so that they are able to both have attorneys. We also fund for mediation which really runs the gamut. We’re really just here to help the underdog and to make sure that they have an equal say in their divorce and their new chapter.”
How many clients do you help a year?
“Unfortunately we can’t take on every client that reaches out. If there aren’t any assets, there’s nothing to divide. In these circumstances, you won’t need me. You won’t want to pay a lot of money for an attorney or for litigation costs. If this is you, you’re going to want to come up with 10 non-negotiable things you want and ask for your spouse to do the same. We have around 100 clients a year. Some clients stay with us for longer because the litigation takes longer. Some clients settle very quickly. No two cases are the same”
Who’s a good candidate for funding?
“I always say to not throw good money after bad. If there are assets and one spouse is trying to maintain control of the money and of you, we will take a look at this case. There’s usually something that the other partner will be entitled to that can fund a case. Usually there’s a property but we’ve also funded cases through horse farms and art collections. People really diversify how they spend their money. If there’s something that an individual is entitled to, we will look at the case and fund a percentage of what that entitlement would be so that they are able to get an attorney, a forensic accountant, and a business evaluation if needed. A lot of our clients jointly own a business. Additionally, there are often cases where one spouse has helped develop a business where the other one maintains the control of the business, but they’re still entitled to something. So we’ll certainly try to help out and get a forensic accountant for those people.”
Why do you think it’s more important than ever for divorce clients and professionals to know that divorce funding is an option nowadays?
“The courts were always backed up and now they’re going to be even more backed up (because of COVID-19). Trying to file an application for counsel fees to the court is going to take a long time. You will also need to have an attorney to do this. Something that would take a year last year is now going to take two years this year. So many people are experiencing underemployment or financial strain right now. It’s important people know that this is an option. If you can’t get through the court system and you want to get out of your marriage now, we can potentially get you some funding to get on your way.”
Do you put together a litigation budget? How do clients know how much to ask you for?
“We work with attorneys so we know if the case is a $10,000, a $100,000, or a million dollar case. The more assets there are, the more there is to fight over but we shouldn’t be funding $100,000 for a case where there’s only $150,000 in assets. In the beginning, we will need to figure out how much we will go up to and if someone doesn’t need a full amount, great. If they can settle, we encourage it.”