Divorced couples can attest to the fact that divorce is not cheap. Attorneys’ fees can quickly add up, especially when both spouses own numerous assets, or when there are children involved. Below are six tips to save money on your legal fees during your divorce.
1. Work with your spouse.
One of the most significant ways to keep your legal costs low is by working together amicably with your spouse throughout the divorce. Keep in mind that it costs you both time and money every time your attorney files a motion or attends a hearing. As difficult as it may be, agree to set aside your differences, compromise with one another, and negotiate the terms of your divorce outside the courtroom when possible.
2. Be upfront with your attorney.
If you wish to hire legal representation and are serious about wanting to minimize your legal costs, be upfront with your attorney. At your initial meeting, explain to your attorney that you’d like to keep your case as cost-effective as possible. Ask what tasks you can do or help with to reduce legal fees. Your attorney might suggest you take care of gathering the paperwork needed, including all financial-related documents. Doing this legwork will save your lawyer time and hence save you money.
3. Understand when you are billed.
In the long run, it also helps to understand when your attorney is on the clock. “Billable hours” is a common phrase when working with attorneys, yet some people are still surprised to find that attorneys may charge for time on the telephone or even for a quick chat over lunch. Before signing an agreement with your attorney, clarify the legal services you will be billed for so that there are no surprises later on.
4. Be informed.
Though your attorney can answer all your questions and guide you throughout the entire divorce process, remember that there is a wealth of information on separation and divorce in your state available in books, publications, and the internet. Keep in mind, however, that not everything you read online is true.
5. Use your time wisely.
In most cases, you will be billed by the hour. Keeping all communication with your attorney on point is another way to minimize legal costs. Clients who have a tendency to rant or discuss matters that are not legally relevant to the case, may count towards your attorney fees. On a related note, be sure to prepare ahead of time for scheduled phone calls or meetings. Condense any communication with your attorney by jotting down the items you want to discuss or ask to ensure that all your points are answered.
6. Consider your alternatives.
Getting divorced means going through the legal system, but not all divorces need to transpire in the courtroom. Unfortunately, hearings, trials, and court appearances can take up a lot of time and cost a lot of money. If your circumstances allow it, why not consider less expensive choices, such as mediation or collaborative divorce? These methods will keep legal fees to a minimum and keep all divorce proceedings out of court at the same time.
7. Consult with a good divorce lawyer.
If you are considering divorce, have been served divorce papers or you have been separated for a while and know divorce is eminent then we strongly encourage you to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer. During this consultation, the lawyer will listen to your specific situation and explain the divorce process. He or she will also let you know about the different options you have to settle issues such as division of assets and child custody as well as what you should do to protect yourself and ensure you are not taken advantage of.