If you are about to retain an attorney to help you go through the emotional roller coaster ride known as “dissolution of marriage“, one of the most anxiety-producing issues in the family law matter is the cost of attorney’s fees.
The assistance of a divorce attorney is usually required even for what some would call a “simple” divorce. The immense quantity of paperwork which is now required to complete a divorce is anything but simple. Further, this paperwork is burdensome, confusing, and time-consuming, and it is important to get right the first time around.
As a result, many choose to retain an attorney to lead them “through the wilderness” and to prepare all of the necessary paperwork.
If you choose to retain an attorney, you should know, understand, and put into practice certain tips which can help to save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in fees. An attorney is paid for his time so, in order to keep your fees as low as possible, you need to do the following:
Gather, Organize, And Deliver Documents & Information
The largest part of a “divorce budget” is what is called discovery. You can help keep your costs and fees down by gathering, organizing, and delivering all of the documents and information requested by your attorney as early as possible. This means that you will have to sacrifice some of your downtime in order to do so, but it definitely beats the “down” you will experience if you do not, as the increased attorney fees will not make you happy. A small hint: the longer the case goes on, the more fees you will pay.
Don’t Use Your Attorney As An Emotional Counselor
With relatively few exceptions, the attorney is a legal expert, not a mental health professional. Many clients seem to think the attorney is a “jack-of-all-trades” and can double as a counselor as well as a legal expert. Do yourself a favor – do not call or communicate with your attorney to “dump” all of your emotional problems. Save that process for your best friends, a rabbi/priest/pastor, or an actual mental health professional. If you do not, you will have nobody but yourself to blame for those extra hours in fees.
Limit Your Communications With The Attorney
Because an attorney’s “stock-in-trade” is time, the less attorney time you use, the lower your bill will be. Most attorneys bill in six-minute increments or any portion of a six-minute period. Here’s a tip: instead of sending several emails or making several telephone calls over the course of a day or a week, write your “points” down and then communicate those “points” in one email or in one telephone conversation. For example, if you send six (6) emails in one day or you make six (6) different telephone calls to your attorney in one day, that will generally cost you .6 of an hour in billing. If you follow the tip above, you can reduce that .6 charge to a .1 or .2 hour billing. Over the course of a case, that can result in significant savings to you.
A divorce hurts so much on an emotional level, and most times, there is nothing you can really do for that hurt except give it time. However, if you follow these tips, you can significantly control the “sting” that a divorce can have on your finances.