Six Ways to Save Money in Your Case
Hiring a competent attorney for any case is expensive. This article is written assuming that you are going to hire an attorney for your divorce, custody or other family law case — whether you should is a topic for another day.
Now that you’ve gotten an attorney, here are some ways to save money:
1. Hire a good attorney, then listen to your attorney, not your spouse or ex
The first part of this statement means: Hire the best divorce lawyer or best custody lawyer that you can. Next is the listening part.
It is amazing and unfortunate how many people will be in a huge battle with their ex or soon to be ex, yet believe everything the ex tells them, rather than listening to what their attorney says. If you don’t trust your attorney, get a new attorney. If you have an attorney that you trust, listen to him or her. It is highly unlikely that you can rely on what your ex says if you’re at war.
2. Do what your attorney asks
During the case, your attorney will have a great many tasks for you to do — complete a timeline, answer various questionnaires, fill out an inventory, gather documents, etc. You don’t have to do anything, but if you don’t you are going to cost yourself a great deal of money, and maybe more. At a minimum, your attorney will have to spend time trying to solve the problem another way — without the information that he or she has asked you for. If you’ve been asked for something critical, and you don’t provide it, you could lose your entire case.
3. Send documents, photos, etc. in one email, rather than a bunch of emails
Your attorney will undoubtedly ask you to send him or her documents, photos, videos, etc. If you are providing hard-copies, when you deliver them, have them organized, but not to a crazy degree. If you organize them to the point that they cannot be easily copied, worked with, etc., you actually cost yourself money. If you are sending the items by email, it will help if you send them in reasonably sized groups. That is, don’t send 1,000 documents in one email, but even more importantly don’t send one each in 1,000 different emails.
4. Don’t have your attorney draft an agreement until an agreement is reached
If you think that you have reached an agreement with your ex, that’s great. But, having your attorney draft a 70-page divorce decree, that then gets substantially changed a number of times, can cost you an unbelievable amount of money. Often, it’s best to bullet point tentative agreements and make sure that there is really a meeting of the minds before incurring the cost of a major drafting project.
5. Don’t fight any more than necessary and don’t fight over things that don’t matter
Fighting is expensive. It takes attorney time, and that’s what attorneys sell — so time is truly money. If something is worth fighting over, the cost may be worth it, but fighting needlessly or over things that really don’t matter is a way to waste an incredible amount of money. Spending $7,500.00 of attorneys’ fees to get a couch that you could replace for $750.00 is probably a really bad expenditure of money.
6. Do not use your attorney as a counselor
Most people know this, but it’s hard to remember it. Attorneys generally cost more than mental health professionals, and no matter how much you like your attorney, if the discussion you are having does not further the cause of your case, you will be far happier at invoice time if you have spent your time counseling with a friend or mental health professional, rather than your attorney.
Finally, remember: there’s saving money on the front end, and saving money on the back end. Any competent attorney can settle your case in a few days, if you are willing to give the other side everything that he or she wants. That may save you some attorneys’ on the front end, but cost you a fortune on the back end. So the bottom line is, look for realistic ways to save money, but be smart.