Be involved and communicate with your attorney that you are looking for cost-saving tips, which is a common question.
Attorney’s fees is not a line on a typical family budget, and we understand that. So be up front with your attorney and explain your willingness to do legwork such as copying, organizing documents, picking up court files, etc.
Of course, anytime we can have someone at a lower rate do a task with the same effectiveness we will. However, there are typically administrative tasks where a client can do the legwork to help control costs.
Also, be mindful that we charge for our time and there’s typically a minimum. It’s more cost-effective to send one email with several questions rather than sending five emails with five separate questions.
Your attorney may even have a list of other things not listed here his/her other clients find helpful in this area.
Do not argue over property or anything else simply based on “principle.” Too often clients get caught up in positions that are based on nothing more than a “not-wanting-to-give-in” or “it’s-what’s-right” mentality.
Understandably, any domestic action is a difficult and emotional time in your life, but expenses will quickly rise based on these types of arguments.
Additionally, what you may view as fair or right is not necessarily in line with what the law says is going to happen. Listen to your attorney’s advice in this regard and spend the most energy focusing on the areas of your case that are truly the most important to you.
Determine what your goals are and make sure your attorney understands your goals from the start.
If your goal is shared custody, have a discussion with your attorney about what your goal means so you have an understanding of what efforts will be required to meet that goal.
If you are not concerned about smaller issues, list those out for your attorney and make sure he or she understands that you are willing to give in on some of those issues if it means you get your goal.
The more issues that you and your spouse can resolve outside of court, the fewer issues that need to be addressed at trial. This will save a lot of time and expense for trial preparation.
Talk to an attorney to get a realistic idea of how the court is likely to divide assets, possible custody schedules and whether or not spousal support is a factor.
Make offers of settlement fair and reasonable given what a court is likely to do. This will save thousands in litigation costs. Clients who waste money in the divorce process let hurt feelings and emotions drive their settlement offers.
Another way to keep the costs reasonable is to decide early on what issues matter most, and then do not waste resources arguing over the small stuff.
On the flip side, if your wife or her attorney completely refuse to bargain in good faith and have unrealistic expectations, it will be evident to your attorney who may advise you that it is better to set the matter for trial rather than wasting money negotiating to no avail.
When a client is organized and readily able to provide information and documents, it dramatically decreases the cost of discovery and also makes the divorce process slightly quicker.
While it may sometimes be time-consuming for a client to gather documents, it is much cheaper then your attorney having to collect them.
Another huge money saving tip is to be conscious of the costs when determining whether or not to settle.
Oftentimes, people get caught up in not feeling like something is “fair,” but if you are fighting over a piece of property or issue that is not very important in the large scheme of things, you will likely spend more in attorney fees than the benefit you will receive.
If your lawyer asks you to organize things, get them documents or whatever they need. Be proactive and gather three years of tax returns, and a year of bank and credit card statements for them. The more info they have up front, the less work they have to do to get organized.
Also, your lawyer is not your therapist. If you use your lawyer as a therapist, it will be infinitely more expensive than if you had sought professional counseling in the first instance since counselors at least sometimes take health insurance.
Nearly all experienced and effective family law lawyers charge by the hour. You should understand the minimum charges for phone calls, letters, email, etc.
Most attorneys will have you fill out a questionnaire upon retention. Providing your attorney with the maximum amount of organized documents and information in written form is the key to keeping the cost of divorce low.
Ensure that you have disclosed all assets. If you don’t tell us the whole truth, chances are we won’t do our jobs for you properly. Remember that every time your lawyer has to call you for information that the clock is running and you are getting billed by the hour.
Work with your attorney to determine your priorities and goals for your case and stay focused on achieving those goals throughout your case.
Changing your mind about your priorities and goals during the course of your representation or becoming sidetracked with unimportant issues that don’t impact your goals can create extra unnecessary costs.
Limiting correspondence with your attorney to only what is necessary can also reduce your costs. I sometimes have clients who will e-mail me multiple times a day and then call shortly after they send an e-mail if I do not respond within an hour or two. This can really create unnecessary costs.
I would recommend writing down your questions or comments for your attorney throughout the day and then send your attorney one email per day with a list of questions/thoughts rather than sending multiple emails as you think of things throughout the day.
Streamlining communication in this manner will help to save on fees.
Organize all of your financial information and give it to your attorney as soon as possible. The more information we have, the better!
This will save you time and money, and will allow your attorney to better prepare your case.