Keeping Legal Costs Low When You Divorce
Your marriage has gone sour and you have a divorce to deal with. You are worried about the financial cost, and rightfully so. Divorce can be a costly affair. Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep the cost down.
Make sure you need a divorce lawyer before hiring one. If your marriage is young, there is no estate or children involved, and you can reach an amicable settlement, you may not need an attorney. However, if your case is complex, involving assets, children, and the possibility of litigation, you are safer in the hands of a divorce attorney.
Compare Quotes and Lawyers
Do not settle on the first lawyer that you come across. Interview several of them and compare their charges. This does not mean that you should automatically settle for the cheapest lawyer around. Get the most affordable lawyer that you believe will effectively meet your needs.
Put It Down on Paper
When you pick a lawyer, insist on a written agreement stating all costs and payment terms. This agreement should include clear information on how often you will need to make the payments.
Keep Hourly Rates in Mind
Divorce attorneys are often paid on an hourly basis, with senior staff having higher hourly rates than junior staff. Keep these hourly rates in mind as you work with your attorney. The following two points give guidance on keeping the number of hours spent on your case low.
Phone Calls and E-mails
You will be billed for the time your attorney spends answering your phone calls and e-mails. When you call, consolidate all your questions and inquiries into one phone call or email to reduce hours on your case.
If you take time to gather all information that's already available to you, it may lessen the amount of work your attorney has to do. Gather statements, bank account information, and any other documents that you may need. Time your lawyer spends doing administrative tasks, such as tracking down information, is not a great use of your money. If there's anything you can do for your case by yourself, do it. There's no need for you to pay a lawyer to photocopy documents at a high hourly rate when you could do this yourself in an effort to keep your lawyer's hours in check.
If you are facing divorce, hiring a divorce attorney may be costly, but not hiring one may be costlier, depending on your situation. Choose your lawyer carefully, get a written agreement, and stay focused and proactive. And remember, time is money.