Almost all divorcing individuals are concerned with minimizing legal fees during their divorce. Following these five tips can help you avoid common mistakes that lead to high attorney fees.
1. Choose your attorney carefully:
The amount of money you spend on your divorce can be significantly minimized by picking the right attorney. Do your research and choose someone experienced in the area of family law. You don’t want to pay an attorney for his or her time learning the ropes of an unfamiliar practice area. Ask your attorney about their general approach to handling divorce cases. An attorney who works hard to help the parties cooperate with one another to reach a satisfactory settlement will facilitate a much more affordable divorce than an attorney who promotes a highly adversarial process.
2. Provide your attorney with complete information:
There is a great deal of paperwork required during a divorce, and your attorney will ask for an extensive amount of information even before filing a single document with the court. The vast majority of clients leave out significant amounts of information in paperwork they are asked to complete. The attorney or paralegal must then spend time gathering the missing information, which costs the client money. While all of the paperwork may seem overwhelming, taking the time to gather all of the information requested by your attorney will save you money in the short and long run.
3. Keep communicating with your spouse:
Attorney fees skyrocket in cases where the client wishes for all communication to go through the attorneys. While some situations require limited or no contact between spouses, such as cases involving domestic violence, most clients can significantly reduce the cost of their divorce by communicating directly with their soon to be ex spouse. Try to negotiate as much as possible with your spouse, and utilize your attorney only when your own efforts are unsuccessful.
4. Do not use your attorney as your therapist:
Divorce is a difficult and emotional process, and you may find yourself venting to your attorney about your anger and frustration with personal aspects of your relationship with your spouse. Keep in mind that the clock is ticking and the attorney must charge for these conversations. Use your friends, therapist, and support groups to talk about the emotional aspect of your divorce, and limit conversations with your attorney to resolving the issues relevant in the legal case.
5. Choose your battles carefully and do not be too quick to litigate:
Anger, hurt, and frustration caused by the break down of the marriage often cause clients to want to go for the jugular and fight every small issue in the divorce case. A highly adversarial divorce usually does not lead to a better outcome and only increases stress and legal fees. Don’t spend $5,000.00 to fight for the $3,000.00 sofa or $10,000.00 to fight for a $100 a month difference in child support. Sometimes confrontation and litigation are necessary, but carefully evaluate each issue to know what is worth fighting for and what simply isn’t worth the stress and expense.
Always keep in mind that your attorney charges for the amount of time spent on your case, so anything you can do to minimize the time your attorney and his or her office must spend will decrease your attorneys fees. Keeping this in mind and using the tips above can help you reach a successful resolution to your divorce without breaking the bank.
JEANETTE L. SOLTYS, ESQ.