Just about everyone who comes into our firm has questions about the legal process–how long the process takes, how the process works, or what the outcome is likely to be. However, one of the questions that clients should be asking is, “What can I do to save costs?” At the end of the day, whether you’re seeking a divorce, annulment, allocation of parental responsibilities, or some other request, all of these actions have one unifying theme: cost is a factor worth considering. This article is aimed at reviewing ways to save money in your legal matter.
One of the most frustrating (and most common) ways that clients increase their legal fees is by failing to be responsive to requests. The courts have very specific dates and deadlines that you must observe. Whether it’s your attorney or their paralegal, chances are if they’re requesting something from you-you should probably comply in a timely manner. Following up with additional emails, phone calls, or voicemails all add to the fees in your case. So do yourself a favor: if your attorney or their paralegal requests you to do something, see to it that you act quickly (or at least tell them when you will have it done). Otherwise, you will incur expenses you might otherwise be able to avoid.
Another behavior we see pretty frequently in family law is the tendency of clients to use their attorney as a therapist of sorts. Now, don’t get me wrong, your attorney is likely willing to talk to you about your concerns and your fears. However, depending on your requests, your attorney may or may not be qualified to address your concerns. Attorneys aren’t mental health professionals and they don’t generally know how best to manage emotional struggles. So you have to ask yourself–are you (1) seeking legal advice; (2) seeking mental health assistance; (3) wanting to feel heard/understood; (4) looking for someone to talk to; or (5) willing to pay for the time. Therefore, you might want to consider whether you’re best off speaking with a qualified therapist or if you’d rather pay your attorney for the time to speak about it.
On a similar note, knowing how to communicate and the proper avenue for communication can really help lower your costs. Keeping things neat and tidy is frequently very beneficial. For example, if you have ten questions about your case, it’s generally preferable to send a single email with all your questions, rather than ten separate emails. This allows a recipient to address each question in one email and reduces the likelihood of a missed question. Consolidated emails will prevent you from inundating your attorney’s inbox.
Additionally, using the proper channel of communication can be just as important. If you need to discuss dates, deadlines, or a recent email, it may be better to speak with the paralegal. If, however, you’re in need of legal advice, or if you’re in need of something that requires your attorney’s attention, you probably ought to contact your attorney.
On a similar note, consider whether your communication should be via text, email, or if a phone call is necessary. Generally speaking, texts should be limited to very brief topics (e.g. what time do I need to be at court/are you free to speak). Email, on the other hand, allows you to be more precise in your questions, and also allows for more precise response. Finally, phone calls are generally best suited for when you expect some discussion or some back and forth.
Family law cases can get complicated. They can get emotionally trying and become costly depending on the level of conflict. By being responsive, considering the appropriateness of communications and qualifications of the recipient, and by communicating efficiently, you can help cut down your legal fees. If you need help with your family law matter, get in touch with Modern Family Law today. We provide no-charge consultations with our team of family law attorneys.
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