Divorce can be expensive, but the following are a few simple tips that will help you to minimize your legal fees. For most people, an important objective is to save money in a divorce.
While each person’s situation is unique, divorces often include one common theme: conflict. Conflict is natural in a divorce and our point isn’t to say you shouldn’t be fighting for certain things — simply to point out that you might be better served, financially, to figure out which fights matter most to you.
The divorce process can be expensive. Whether you decide to represent yourself, or you elect to retain an attorney to assist you, the procedure carries a price tag. That’s why it’s important to determine how you want to fight when it’s worth it, and when to compromise.
Open communication and integrity are extremely important here. If you and your soon-to-be-ex can talk with one another openly and without deceit or manipulation, this will be a tremendous help in making sure that settlement may be possible. So whether you settle a few issues, or agree upon all terms, anything you can do to cooperate will lower the overall price tag of your divorce.
One of the biggest mistakes a client can make is failing to review their bill. When your bills come in, take the time to sit down, read through the bill, and make sure that everything makes sense. Catching issues early save money in a divorce. Attorneys are human, and occasionally they make mistakes. Sometimes they will make a clerical error, or sometimes they might accidentally bill you for work they did for another client.
While most attorneys will take the time to review bills before they’re sent out to clients, some don’t. So if you see a suspicious entry, or some number doesn’t seem to make sense, or even if you are unsure, reach out to your attorney. Again, as with most things in life, communication is key. Review your bills and maintain open channels of dialogue with your attorney — it will make your life simpler.
Today we’re here for everyone’s favorite game — Who are you gonna call? Attorney, Paralegal, or Administrative Staff!? All lightheartedness aside, this is a very important question to ask. Because this issue comes up so frequently, we’re providing you with a quick summary of information that might help.
Mostly, the attorneys are who you call when you need specific information about your case or interpreting the law. If you are confused about your rights, if you have burning questions about the law, you need some guidance, or you’re looking for advice…chances are that you want to speak to an attorney.
A Paralegal works alongside your attorney. They are the eyes and ears, and they are indispensable in your representation. However, not all questions should be directed to your paralegal. They are absolutely amazing and knowledgeable when it comes to calendaring items, collecting information, determining whether documents are missing, and a whole host of other skills. However, paralegals are unable to provide legal advice. So if you have questions about when you have a court date, need to know if your sworn financial statement is proper, or have questions about the process, often a paralegal will be your best bet.
The Legal Staff keeps a law firm up and running. Without their assistance, the typical law firm wouldn’t function. With that being said, legal staff is highly qualified in their respective areas. So when should you turn to them for help? Generally, the legal staff can help you if you have questions regarding billing, concerns with getting documents properly scanned and filed, or getting into the office to speak with your attorney.
There are many benefits to be gained by working with a “paperless” firm. The most easily recognizable benefits of moving to a paperless system are increased organization and efficiency: because files are stored digitally, they can be quickly sorted, located, and stored. Therefore, when your attorney is seeking a specific item, it can be easily retrieved. Additionally, this cuts down on the costs of having to store documents in vast file rooms and will help you save money in a divorce.
Turning to electronic communication there are a few tips. If you reach out to your attorney via email, the rule of simplicity is king. When you send an email, try to be clear and concise. If you have several questions, it is better to list them out within a single email than to send multiple emails. Every attorney is barraged with countless emails a day. It is much easier to miss a question if you send multiple emails. And finally, it is worth considering whether your request is appropriate for email — if it is something that may require a lengthy discussion, such as your attorney’s impressions of a recent motion or order, perhaps a phone call is better suited to address your concerns.
When you decide you need the assistance of an attorney, one of the most important questions is which lawyer will be right for you? Which firm embodies the values you hold? Who will fight for you, and who will do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable?
When evaluating whether an attorney (or firm) is “right” for you, keep in mind there may, in fact, be several. So it’s important to shop around. Read reviews online. To the extent, you’re able to find reviews from former clients, read them! Also be sure to consider the cost of any potential attorney, the hourly rate, the amount of any retainer, and what sort of payment system is used at the firm. This evaluation at the start will help save money in a divorce.
Aside from the more measurable aspects, you also should have a conversation with your prospective attorney. Do you like their personality? What sorts of mindset do they have when it comes to your representation? Are they going to increase litigation or will they work to reduce conflict with the other side? Are they willing to engage in behavior that makes you uncomfortable or is their personality likely to increase friction? Try to feel out any potential attorney, and see if you think they are a good fit for you and your needs.
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