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Lower Costs of Divorce

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What Can I do to  Help Reduce the Cost of My Divorce?

There are a number of ways the cost of a divorce can become expensive. Fortunately, there are several things you can do in order to help reduce costs. Below, this article will explain a number of ways you can save money throughout the divorce process.

Ways to Save Money on a Divorce  

Choose Your Divorce Attorney Wisely  

When shopping for an attorney, clients may attempt to be frugal, thinking they can save money by hiring a lawyer for a flat fee or an inexperienced attorney who will work cheaply. This is often a mistake.

Have a Clear Written Fee Agreement 

It is important to obtain a written fee agreement which makes clear the terms of the representation, including whether any retainer is refundable, how often you will receive statements, and the hourly rates of the attorneys and staff that will be working on your matter. You should obtain and keep a copy of this fee agreement and refer to it in the event you have any questions concerning your attorney's bills.

Remember: Time is Money 

Lawyers bill for their time. The more time your lawyer invests in your case, the higher your legal fees will be. It is important to discuss what your attorney does and does not charge for. Clarify with your attorney regarding what he or she bills so you do not unknowingly request services you would not like to be billed for.

Use Time with Your Attorney Wisely 

Most attorneys who bill hourly for their time do so in blocks of six-minute increments. As soon as your attorney begins work on your case, he or she will record the time spent on your case and charge you accordingly. To avoid the accumulation of unnecessary fees, plan ahead before speaking with your attorney.

Be Prepared 

You should communicate with your attorney anytime you need legal advice on your case, but you should prepare in advance for meetings with your attorney. Try taking a few minutes prior to each meeting to make a list of questions or issues you wish to discuss and limit your conversation to these points. Preparing an agenda will take less of your attorney's billable time, will direct your attorney's attention to the specific issues you would like addressed, and will allow you to resolve more items at the meeting.

Your Divorce Lawyer is Not Your Therapist 

Divorces are extremely emotional. While it is important to ensure your attorney understands your side of the situation, do not get into the habit of calling often. Remember, each time you contact your lawyer the clock is ticking, and you are being billed by the hour.

Do Not Use Your Attorney to Negotiate a Division of Personal Items 

If possible, you should try to resolve issues concerning the division of personal property with your spouse without the intervention of your attorney(s). Discuss with your spouse how the items will be divided and prepare a written list detailing who shall retain each item of personal property.

Follow The Plan 

You and your attorney should agree on a course of action, plan, or strategy in your case. Do not change direction or take an action which does not align with the case strategy without first discussing with your attorney how a change may be implemented. Miscommunication with your attorney is bound to result in unnecessary and costly steps.

Be Responsive 

Always read any correspondence sent to you by your attorney and respond if necessary. Attorneys typically forward copies of court notices, legal documents and other communication to their clients for review and approval before taking action. Should you fail to respond in a timely manner, this could cause delay in your case or additional legal fees by having to follow up on correspondence. Being organized and remaining actively involved in your case could significantly reduce your legal fees. Although you may not understand each document you receive from your attorney, it is important to review each piece of information and to contact your lawyer with questions.

Attempt to Settle out of Court  

If you are seeking to save money during your divorce, you and your attorney should plan a case strategy to reach a reasonable settlement as quickly as possible. However, if the other side cannot be convinced to settle the case, it is imperative that your lawyer be skillful and confident enough to effectively try your case.

Providing Documents & Gathering Information 

During your case, you may be asked to provide documents, answer interrogatory questions, or complete other court related forms. When completing these tasks, it is important you understand what information is being requested and to follow instructions in completing any forms. Do not hold back information. Assume that any information requested is necessary, unless you are informed otherwise by your lawyer. If you provide disorganized or incomplete information, your attorney may spend hours sorting through paperwork, resulting in additional costs to you. Providing your attorney with complete, organized responses to any requests will not only save your attorney time, but it will also save you money.

E-Mail May be Your Best Friend 

Although e-mail may seem like an inefficient and often slow means of communication, if possible, use e-mail for correspondence with your attorney instead of calling.

Focus on The Issues 

Listen to your lawyer and focus on the legal issues of your case. Too often, costs of divorce are driven up by emotional issues which do not relate to the real legal issues of the case. Remember, items are replaceable and fighting over items of personal property is often not worth the extra expense in attorney's fees.

Cheating Does Not Pay  

Do not attempt to hide assets from your spouse. This will only delay the case, but will likely result in higher legal fees, and could result in court-imposed sanctions. Be honest and forthcoming with the court and your attorney. Your attorney cannot adequately represent you without all the facts.

Additional Resources

With a huge library of resources which cover every aspect of divorce from start to finish. You've got questions, Meriwether & Tharp is here with the answers you need.
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