Divorce is expensive. Nevertheless,
there are ways to reduce your legal fees. The following are some tips:
1. Prepare for your phone calls.
I bill in 6 minute increments. However,
some lawyers bill in 15 minute intervals. You are charged for every phone call
with your lawyer. Remember, your lawyer sells time. Therefore, make a list of
the topics you wish to discuss before you call so you will not forget what you
wish to discuss. Also, call only when necessary.
Do not call your lawyer at home unless
it is an emergency. Your lawyer does not have your file with him. Most lawyers
charge double the hourly rate if you call them at home.
2. Seek outside help for emotional
While divorce lawsuits are stressful
and emotionally draining, your lawyer is not a psychologist or a psychiatrist.
It is less expensive to handle your stress by regular exercise, healthy diet and
companionship with good friends. (Do not date however, because you are still
married). If your condition is serious, seek professional help. Your lawyer can
provide a referral.
3. Honesty is the best policy.
Your lawyer must know the good and bad
points of your case. Your spouse's attorney will find out the bad points against
you and exploit them. If you do not tell your lawyer the bad points, it will be
more expensive for him to protect your rights and defend you. Additionally, he
may not be adequately prepared to defend you if you have not told him the
complete truth. Even if it hurts, you must tell your lawyer everything.
4. Fee disputes.
If you believe you have been
over-charged, discuss it with your lawyer. If you are still dissatisfied,
contact the bar fee dispute committee to mediate the dispute.
5. Keep your sense of humor.
Lawsuits are expensive. Sometimes the
results are unfair. Seldom does anyone get everything they want in a lawsuit.
However, keep your sense of humor. It will save you money by preventing you from
litigating the non-essential points. If you are going to negotiate a settlement,
remember both sides have to give to reach a settlement. Otherwise, no one wins
but the lawyers.
6. Be responsible and don't sweat
the petty stuff.
Determine what is important to you and
set out a realistic goal to accomplish what you want. Don't fight over petty
issues. In the long run, you spend more fighting than the issue is worth and
only your lawyer wins.
7. Communicate with your spouse.
If possible, communicate with your
spouse to see which issues you are able to resolve yourself. Open communication
may help you achieve a better and sometimes faster settlement. Remember, if you
have children, you will continue to have to deal with your spouse once the
divorce is final.
8. Call for appointments.
When you need to discuss your case,
call ahead and make an appointment. If you drop in to see your lawyer, you will
be disappointed because more than likely he will be busy with other clients.