Divorce is inevitably expensive, but there are ways to save money on legal fees. Experienced attorneys are more than happy to help clients save money whenever possible, but clients have to be willing to some of the work on their own. They also have to use their time productively, meaning calls and office appointments should focus on the “business” of divorce, rather than personal gripes and grievances. It's inevitable that feelings will boil over at some point, and good attorneys will sympathize with you, having been through this with many clients. However, they will gently remind you of the task at hand, and you should return to that if you don't want to waste your precious hour.
Regardless of the variables in your marriage, here are 5 ways to help reduce legal fees during your divorce:
- Provide full, detailed answers.
Attorneys will ask for written statements concerning your marriage, including thorough explanations on things like your finances, jobs, martial assets and relationships with the children. Providing full, detailed answers that truly answer the question means less calls from your attorney, less actions on his or her behalf to find out information, and more time to move onto other things during the conferences.
- Complete as much as you can on your CIS.
The Case Information Statement is where most clients throw up their hands and tell the attorney, “You handle it”. Or, they want to sit with their attorney to go over each and every section. We know it's a lot of pages, asking you for extremely detailed information on your finances, expenses, properties and liabilities. But taking the time to go through the form line by line is one of the easiest ways to save money.
- Be prompt and through during discovery.
Discovery is an essential process at the beginning of your divorce. It can also be overwhelming and time-consuming when you're hit with request after request for information and documentation. However, dragging your feet or being negligent during discover doesn't look good to the judge. It also costs you more money, since your attorney will have to sit you down and go over each section, maybe over a series of several meetings.
- Make sure that your calls are productive.
Law firms typically bill per fraction of an hour, such as every 6 minutes. As a general practice, calls under the minimum interval are still billed at that minimum interval rate. You can imagine how this adds up if you call every single day, or more than once a day. Of course, many calls are perfectly legitimate, and there are emergency situations where you need your attorney to act immediately. However, it's in your best interest to stay focused and work through the issues without digressing, and keeping calls to a set number per week/ month, etc.
By following these tips, as well as any other advice from your attorney, it is possible to keep divorce costs from spinning out of control.