Some people try to “go it alone” and try their hand at drafting their own divorce documents. In Minnesota, there are forms online and at the courthouse that allow people to act as their own attorney and fill out the form to be processed without any legal representation. Most of the litigants in divorce court are not represented by attorneys, but if you have children or any significant property like a house, you may actually be saving money and heartache down the road by hiring a competent attorney right away. Consider these five points to reduce expenses during a divorce.
1. Hire competent legal counsel
A good divorce or family law attorney has done this before and can save you the time and expense of redoing things, filing unnecessary documents and essentially just getting you to a solid result without the expense of a trial. There are some cases that must go to trial and having an attorney who tries cases regularly can also cut costs since they generally do not need to spend time learning how to try a case on your dime.
2. Work it out on your own
The easiest way to cut down on attorney fees is to sit down with your ex face-to-face without lawyers and try to work out the details of your settlement. Of course, you will both need to consult with your attorneys and the attorneys will make sure the agreement is legally sound and drafted correctly, but when it comes to things like schedules for the kids, the parents usually know best and can save a lot of money if they work these issues out on their own.
3. Don’t draw a line in the sand
Divorce is about compromise and negotiation. Even if you have a big expensive trial, you may not win on every issue, and continuing to contest issues will only add to the legal fees. Try to take a giant step back and ask yourself whether having that dining set will matter in five months or five years.
4. Invest your own time in your divorce
It is not uncommon for attorneys to receive documents from clients in extreme disarray. We get anything from large shopping bags filled with bank statements to dirty and crumpled receipts. Attorneys or staff have to sift through these documents and get them in a presentable, readable fashion for the court or the opposing counsel. Taking some time of your own to organize documents can be a real money saver since your attorney’s office won’t have to bill you for doing it themselves.
5. Consolidate your questions into one call or email
Divorce attorneys understand that you are under an incredible amount of pressure during a divorce or custody proceeding. We regularly check our email and phone messages and we WILL get back to you, but calling about one question and then emailing about the same question or calling repeatedly about different things will surely make your bill go up. By all means, make sure you are getting the information you need from your attorney, just keep the calls brief, and pick either calls or emails, but not both, as a way to communicate.
Divorce is always more expensive than clients want it to be. By following these tips, hopefully you will be able to keep the costs under control as much as possible.