Strategies for Saving Time and Money on Legal Fees
If you are delaying divorce because you’re concerned about draining your bank account to pay your legal fees, please know there are ways to reduce legal expenses. Consider the following strategies to save time and money on your legal fees.
#1 Get Organized
Organize your thoughts and your documents before meeting with, calling, or emailing your attorney. Prepare a list of questions so that you stay on point during your discussion and you get all your questions answered, preventing the need to call back again. Organize your documents so that you can quickly sort through whatever you need or what is being requested of you.
#2 Reach an agreement with your spouse on every issue you possibly can and then present the agreement to your attorney
Yes, there are laws in each state dictating how to divide your assets, whether you are entitled to alimony, and how much child support needs to be paid, but there is nothing stopping the two of you from reaching your own agreement on these issues. You can also jointly decide issues such as who keeps the house, who gets the vacation home, and how you are going to divide up your furniture, art collection or electronics, as well as parenting issues such as your parenting schedule, and who will spend winter break with your children.
These are just a few examples, but the point is that only you know what issues are relevant and most important to each of you. If you can come to an agreement on these issues instead of letting your attorneys fight it out, you’ll save yourself some stress, time and a bundle of money.
#3 Be reasonable
While you’re negotiating, remember to be reasonable, cooperative and practical. Always keep the end goal in mind - you want to get through your divorce as peacefully as possible and not burn through money. There is no reason to pay each of your attorneys to negotiate what you can negotiate yourself or go to battle for a household item that is not meaningful to you and costs less than what the attorneys will earn trying to keep it for you.
#4 Handle tasks on your own when possible
Don’t expect your lawyer to handle every detail of the divorce. For example, don’t dump a jumbled mess of bills and statements on your lawyer's desk expecting he or she to make sense of them. Of course, your lawyer and staff can comb through the documents and decipher what is important, but they will charge you for doing so.
You can also take responsibility for completing your financial disclosure statement instead of having your lawyer, a paralegal or other assistant help you. Taking responsibility of your finances by gathering all of the necessary records ( such as bank, credit card, and retirement account statements, and past tax returns), organizing them so that they are easy to review, and filling in most if not all of your expenses on the disclosure statement will save your lawyer time, which will keep your money in your pocket.
#5 Reach out to your lawyer’s assistants about non-legal case issues
Lawyers are incredibly busy and they often rely on their assistants, such as paralegals or law clerks, to help process divorce cases. These assistants bill at much lower rates than the attorneys do and may not bill at all. So, when you have a factual question about your case that does not require legal advice, such as when a particular motion will be heard, or whether your spouse answered discovery requests, contact the assistants instead.
#6 Avoid going to trial
Going to trial is often an unnecessary expense, and it can be avoided by reaching an agreement with your spouse on all the legal issues in the case, so there is nothing left for a judge to decide. If you can't agree on your own, consider participating in mediation, a process that relies on a neutral third party to narrow down the issues in dispute and help you reach an agreement. This will keep your costs down and allow you to maintain some control over your case instead of turning the case over to a judge, who will make a final decision on your personal matters and belongings without fully understanding how important they are to you.
#7 Use your lawyer for legal issues only
Lawyers are experts on the legalities of divorce. They do not have the time to deal with emotional outbursts, they do not want to calm you when you cry, nor are they particularly qualified. But when you bring your emotional issues to your lawyer, you will undoubtedly increase your legal fees.
For example, if you call your lawyer to ask a question about the case and you start to discuss how sad or lonely you are, know that you will be charged for the entire time that you were on that call regardless of how supportive and kind the lawyer may be. And if you complain to your lawyer about an issue that could be resolved without a lawyer, such as your spouse returning your children home 20 minutes late, know that you will pay for the call to your lawyer, which may trigger your lawyer to call your spouse’s attorney to relay your grievance. You’ll pay for that call too.
On top of that, any dispute that is discussed between the attorneys but not resolved could potentially lead to filing a motion with the court to resolve the issue. Surprise! You will pay for the time the lawyer spent preparing the motion and the appearance in court to argue the motion, Now if you think the issue you are calling about is a battle worth fighting, feel free. Just know each time you talk to your lawyer whether about an issue that is related to your case or not, you will need to lpay for the lawyers services and your bill will continue to rise.
#8 Work with an experienced divorce coach or therapist
Lawyers can be incredibly important to the divorce process. They will ensure that you get a final judgment in your divorce and hopefully, they’ll get you much of what you want. But no matter how brilliant your lawyer is, he or she cannot solve your emotional and personal concerns.
Lawyers work with many coaches and therapists and they can often refer you to local resources so that you can work with the right professionals for your personal concerns.
If you know it’s time to stop living in fear of the expense of divorce and have a professional, experienced, and reasonable attorney lead the way, reach out to the experts at The Quattro Firm, L.L.C. Our top attorneys in West Palm Beach, Florida, specialize in multiple areas of the law, including divorce, and are happy to help you sort out your legal requirements.