One of the first questions you may have when you start a divorce proceeding is – how much is this going to cost me? Anyone familiar with the process will tell you that the cost of your proceeding depends on a number of factors. What many people don’t know is that they have some control over their legal fees and costs. Here are some of the things you can do to make the process more cost-effective.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
By choosing mediation or some other form of alternative dispute resolution to reach an agreement, you will keep your costs much lower than if you matter ends up in court. Hiring a mediator can be a cost-effective way to address all the issues you need to resolve your case. Not all family law mediators are the same, and it is important to work with your attorney to choose the right one for your circumstances.
Manage Communication With Your Attorney
If you are paying your attorney on an hourly basis, then every time you call or email your attorney, that communication will be on your invoice. Attorneys want to be in communication with their clients when important events happen or when the client has updated information. They want to be able to answer client questions about the process and the status of their case. However, you are able to manage this communication to some extent. If you are able to gather questions and concerns that do not need immediate responses and then send one email or have one quick phone call instead of many, you will find that this helps to keep your legal costs down.
Help With Information Gathering
As part of the divorce process, you will need to gather and disclose certain information relevant to dividing assets and debts, custody and other issues. If you are able to be organized and gather some of this information yourself, at the direction of your attorney, then you can avoid the cost of your attorney or their staff needing to follow-up with you for information. In addition, when you give the information to your family law lawyer, make sure it is labeled in some format that makes sense. Some information is self-explanatory but not everything. You are the best source of that information and a quick label identifying the document can minimize time spent trying to figure it out.
Be Reasonable And Avoid Escalation
Divorce is tough. There is no getting around the emotional pain and stress that comes with ending a marriage. However, if you can compromise, negotiate and reach an agreement without going to court, your legal costs will be lower. If you can make a list of things you are willing to compromise on, then you may be better prepared to know what you can and cannot live without. You also want to avoid sending that middle-of-the-night email that outlines everything you dislike about your soon-to-be-ex. Social media also has the potential for creating pitfalls that may be used against you and at the very least are likely to increase conflict.
You may not be able to control every aspect of your divorce proceeding, but you can help to minimize the costs that are incurred. In addition to the benefit of reducing your costs, the above recommendations can also help to minimize conflict overall and that is a good thing. Taking the time to prioritize, get organized, contemplate alternatives to court and manage your communication can pay off in the long-run.