Here are 10 tips from a family law and divorce attorney on how to save money and reduce your legal fees during a divorce, child custody or alimony case.
- Get Organized
Preparation is key when trying to reduce legal fees. Organize your thoughts and documents and you’ll save time and money. If you don’t than you’ll pay your lawyer or someone else to do it.
- What You’ll Need
Be prepared to give your lawyer tax returns, pay stubs, 1099’s, credit card statements and bank account records. Write down your questions and be brief when speaking with your lawyer so you keep the clock from running overtime.
- Keep Your Cool
Minimize the amount of acrimony, which simply means to keep your anger, bitterness, harsh words and feelings outside the case. Although emotions can run high, it’s best to keep calm and focus on the outcome you want!
- Stay Put
In child custody cases, it’s important to maintain a steady home and financial life that shows the courts that you are stable. Try to avoid moving your residence unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Appearances Matter
During a divorce, child custody or other family law case, it’s important to show the court that your home is safe and those around you care about your children. To prevent allegations against you, it’s recommended not to start a new relationship that may interfere with your case. By maintaining a good appearance, you’ll have fewer issues to litigate. Allegations can be made against you if a new girlfriend or boyfriend is presented as a bad influence on your children.
- Keep It Simple
In child support or spousal support/maintenance cases, it’s recommended that you keep your financial condition as simple as possible. Numerous businesses, partners, assets and excessive personal expenses that are inconsistent with your income will not reflect positively on your case.
- Financial Transparency
For a period of time, your life will be an open book. Hiding financial documents is not an option. Make sure your bank accounts show enough income to pay your expenses and that those expenses are paid directly from your personal checking account. Tax returns should reflect a declared income that is consistent with your lifestyle.
- Time = Savings
If you want to save on legal fees, respond to your lawyer quickly and efficiently with the documents being requested. Email is a good way to communicate. Be brief, use one string of emails, list your questions and answers and attach necessary documents.
- Support Staff
During the case, if you have a question or need more information, call or email your attorney’s office staff or paralegal. They will reply more quickly and you will be billed at a lower rate. Be sure to make appointments in advance so the staff can prepare your documents for the meeting with your attorney.
- Be a Team Player
You’re not in this alone. Communicating with your lawyer will be of great value when it comes to getting the information you need to make decisions about your future. Your family law attorney is on your side and the more you work together, the better results you’ll have.