Going through a divorce is costly – both emotionally and financially. Among the things that people worry about when they go through a divorce would be the divorce attorney fees that need to be paid. Here are some eye openers to help you keep your attorney’s bills to a minimum.
1. Be clear about how your lawyer will bill you. Find out what fees he will charge over and above the “billable hours” spent during meetings, negotiations, and consultations. For example, many people do not think that time spent on the phone with a lawyer will be added to their bill. Make no mistake, it will be. Then, too, some firms will charge a comprehensive fee, which might include services you don’t need.
2. Lawyers bill according to the time they spend for your case. Therefore, manage your time with your lawyer carefully. Be prepared for meetings and go straight to the point when you speak to him. Of course, your attorney needs to be kept apprised of certain developments relevant to your case, but do this in a timely and organized way.
3. Learn your attorney’s billing system. Most firms will set their bill per hour but will divide that hour into ten 6-minute increments that would be worth a tenth of what the hourly charge is. The moment you sit down in your lawyer’s office, you will be charged 6 minutes. If you stay for 25 minutes, you will be charged for five 6-minute segments of the hour. Plan ahead and get your questions answered in one sitting rather than calling every time you need clarification because even a two minute call will be billed as a full 6-minute segment of a billable hour.
4. Do not use your lawyer’s office to vent or let off steam. His training is in providing legal services, not emotional support. Therapists, guidance counselors and mental health professionals are better equipped to help you through the emotional issues that naturally arise in a divorce.
5. There are some things you can do for your case instead of having your lawyer do them for you and this can save you some money. If your lawyer has some standard questionnaires for fact finding, complete these conscientiously. Saving your lawyer time means saving money. Apart from this, there are certain things your lawyer might allow you to do instead of his legal assistants such as filing documents and delivering copies to the other attorney.
6. Prepare your documents. Get your bank statements, vehicle title certificates, pay stubs, loan documents, investment account statements, retirement information, and credit card statements. Photocopy these yourself so you don’t get charged for it.
7. Do not let hostilities control the divorce process. What you need to know about divorce attorney fees is that they are laughably directly proportionate to the hostility of partners. The more hostile people are, the longer it will take the divorce proceedings to be finished; thus, the higher the fees go. Learn to compromise so you can move on to your new life.
8. Instead of bringing your divorce to court, consider the possibility of other alternatives. Court appearances, trials, and hearings will make your lawyer’s fees skyrocket. Remember that often, a lawyer waits for hours (all of them billable) just for a thirty-minute hearing. Think of going for mediation instead.
9. If you and your soon to be ex spouse can still talk, try to arrive at an amicable settlement. This will save both of you a lot of money and will lessen the emotional turmoil in your divorce.
10. Don’t fool yourself thinking that you can save on divorce attorney fees by hiring a cheap or inexperienced lawyer. You need a good lawyer to get you the best settlement possible so the answer to saving money lies in making the best use of time and taking the most efficient route to this legal goodbye.