Divorce proceedings can be very costly. These tips can help you reduce your costs without sacrificing excellent representation.
- Be prepared! When meeting with your attorney, whether the first time or throughout the process, be prepared for each meeting. Write down your questions. Gather the documents your attorney has requested. Have the answers to issues raised in the last meeting with your attorney.
- Be organized! As early as possible in the process, gather and organize all necessary paperwork, including bank statements, retirement account statements, tax returns, W2s, paystubs, and any other relevant information. The more work you do in organizing these documents, the easier it will be for your attorney to review them. If you drop off a huge stack of unorganized documents at your attorney’s office, you will be paying for her or her staff to sort and organize your papers.
- Use email! Keep your billable hours to a minimum by using email instead of phone calls and office visits for quick questions and information exchanges. Your attorney can often read your email and send you a response in fraction of the time a meeting or phone call would take. The added bonus is that you will likely get a faster response than leaving a message at the office, because of the flexibility and mobility of email access. Just be sure to condense your questions or information into as few emails as possible, since you will probably be billed for each email exchange.
- Know the value of what you want! It makes no sense to argue over who is going to pay the $1,000 credit card balance, if it costs you $800 to resolve it. Some things are priceless and worth fighting for. Other times it’s better to cut your losses and move on.
- Don’t be emotional! Rely on your friends and family, or even a professional counselor, for emotional support. Although your attorney cares about you and the outcome of your case, it is not the best use of financial resources to use your attorney for emotional support. Every time you speak with your attorney, they are on the clock working for you – let her focus on the legal aspects of your divorce.
- Be thorough! Tell your attorney everything, at the beginning. If you conceal or forget anything at the beginning, this may cost time and money in the long run. As your attorney learns more details about your situation, she may have to rework documents or change strategy, which can increase your legal fees.
- Work it out! An uncontested divorce is much more affordable than a contested divorce, so work with your spouse, whenever possible, to negotiate the key issues before approaching an attorney.