If you’re facing a divorce, you’re probably worried about the financial cost of the whole process. And those fears are justified: when emotions run high and spouses argue on every front, a divorce can financially devastate one or both parties.
Fortunately, you have control over how much your divorce will cost. No matter how your spouse behaves, you can take steps to help minimize your legal fees and keep your financial situation stable. Read on to learn nine simple ways to reduce your legal fees during a divorce.
1. Be Honest With Your Attorney
Having your attorney surprised in court is the last thing you want. When you don’t tell your attorney everything that comes up during the divorce (including details that aren’t favorable to you and your case), you’re going to make your attorney spend extra time uncovering the facts. And covering up those facts won’t make any legal issues go away — it just means you’ll have to pay your attorney for the time to deal with those issues plus the time they spend getting the whole story. Usually, whatever issues you have can be resolved easily on the front end, while trying to hide those issues will only make them more complicated and difficult to deal with.
2. Try to Communicate With Your Spouse Respectfully
If you can’t have a civil conversation with your spouse about practical issues like how you’ll share custody of your children, then your attorneys will have to do the talking for you. While a good divorce lawyer should excel at respectful communication and shouldn’t hesitate to serve as an intermediary between you and your spouse, it’s important to remember that attorneys must charge for their time. If you and your spouse both use your attorneys to arrange every single child visit and to discuss every detail of child care or property division, the legal fees from those conversations are going to add up quickly.
3. Stay Open to Compromise
Divorce often involves hurt feelings, and those hurt feelings can fuel bad decisions. For example, you should not fight your spouse about every detail of the divorce. If your goal is to inflict as much emotional and financial pain as possible, then you might achieve that goal by fighting tooth and nail, but you’re going to spend a lot of time and money in the process.
A better approach is to get through the divorce with the least possible financial impact so you can begin to move on and build a happier, financially stable future. If you’re serious about this goal, then it’s critical to find ways you can compromise with your spouse.
Even when you and your spouse can’t reach an agreement, litigation is the most expensive and painful solution, and it shouldn’t be your first resort. Talk with your attorney about other options like mediation, which could help you resolve fundamental disagreements while saving time and money.
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4. Do What the Judge Tells You
If your spouse has to go to court to get you to follow a court order regarding child support or visitation, the court will not only enforce its original order but may also make you pay your spouse’s legal fees. So even if you disagree with the court’s decision on some aspect of your divorce, never disobey a court order. You’ll end up having to follow the order anyway, and the extra legal fees will make it even more painful.
5. Respond to Your Attorney Promptly
If your attorney asks for information or needs to speak with you, get back to them right away. If they need to follow up with you two or three times when they need something from you, that time adds up, and it will slow down your case and add to your legal fees. By responding to your lawyer right away, you can make sure that your case continues to move forward as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
6. Read Your Retainer Agreement Carefully
Many people never read the retainer agreement when they hire a lawyer, so they fail to understand how their lawyer charges for time. As a result, they get surprised by bills and don’t make the best use of the time they’re paying for.
When you retain a lawyer, you need to understand both their hourly rate and their billing practices. For example, you should know what your lawyer’s base increment of time is for billing purposes. (Most lawyers charge by increments of tenths of an hour, meaning six minutes at a time.) You should also know whether they charge for travel time and what other expenses they will bill you for.
By knowing exactly when your attorney is billing you and how much, you can make informed choices about when to call your lawyer and when you can address an issue yourself without involving them.
7. Choose Your Battles
Remember that everything you fight for in a divorce will cost you money. For example, you can challenge your spouse over who gets a $500 dining room set, and maybe you’ll win — but the time your lawyer spends fighting for it could cost you $1,000. Don’t fall into this trap and burn money in a battle over low-value, replaceable assets like furniture, appliances, and electronic devices.
Instead, stay focused on getting to the finish line of the divorce process. Use your resources to fight for the things that matter most, like a fair child custody arrangement and treasured possessions that you can’t replace.
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8. Stay Organized
Your attorney will need plenty of information and financial documentation from you. By keeping all your information organized, you can make life easier for both you and your lawyer. You can use a file folder or any other system that makes sense to you as long as it helps you gather your important documents and keep them arranged logically.
When you have a meeting with your attorney, write down any information you need to tell them and any questions you need to ask ahead of time, and make sure to bring any documents they ask for. Showing up prepared will make meetings with your attorney go faster, and that will lead to lower attorney’s fees.
9. Don’t Treat Your Attorney Like a Therapist
Your lawyer should make time for you whenever you need to talk with them, but don’t forget they have to charge you for their time. You need to keep your attorney informed about any issues you’re dealing with, and they may be able to offer recommendations and advice that can help with those issues. However, your attorney is not a trained therapist or counselor; they are there to provide you with legal counsel and advice. Calling your attorney to discuss emotional issues is something you should keep to a minimum. The emotional struggles of divorce require attention too, but when you need help in that regard, your best option is to seek out assistance from a professional who’s trained to deal with those issues.
Contact Myers Law Firm for Help With a Divorce in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
The tips we’ve provided in this article can help you reduce your divorce costs, but you can’t control your spouse’s behavior and the choices they make. Fortunately, whether your spouse is willing to compromise or has decided to fight you every step of the way, the attorneys at Myers Law Firm can help with affordable, efficient, and aggressive legal representation that puts your best interests before any other concern.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.