Don’t Want to Get Stuck with a Heavy Divorce Lawyer Bill? Follow These Crucial Guidelines
Nobody wants a divorce, but it happens (around 50% of the time in the US). The legal battle over custody of the children and split-up of the jointly-owned assets can be long and expensive, and you can be left with a huge legal fee charged by your divorce attorney. Since hiring a divorce attorney is necessary, there is no way to avoid paying for legal services during a divorce. However, you can significantly reduce the amount of money you would normally spend.
Being Organized Is Key
Your goal is to end up with a low bill, and the amount charged is directly proportionate to the number of hours your attorney has to spend on your case. The first step to achieving that is getting all your documents organized and in one place.
When you go to visit your attorney for the first time, make sure you have everything he/she may need, such as the marriage contract. This will keep your lawyer focused on the actual case, and not waiting for you to collect the documents. According to Elizabeth Billies, who is a family law attorney, if the lawyer has to ask something thrice, she is also going to charge you thrice for the same.
Know the Billing Timeline of the Divorce
Typically, in a divorce case, the first and the last months are heaviest on the pocket. According to Billies, this is especially true for the first month because that is when clients require answers to all their questions, so they schedule meetings, and call up the lawyer frequently.
Afterwards, when they see the first bill, they control their interaction with the lawyer because now they realize how expensive it is. Most of the paperwork is also filed in the first month, which has a fee as well. The end of the process is expensive because that is when the attorney goes with the client to court and finalizes the dissolution of the marriage.
Some Elements Cost More
Billies highlights that cases with a custody battle are the most expensive, and recommends that splitting couples settle custody on their own for the following reasons: firstly, the split-up is healthier for the children; secondly, it is very expensive to fight for custody in the court; and lastly, parents are better judge of what is best for the children, and not the judge (in some cases), as the judge builds his verdict on very limited knowledge
Never Hide Information from Your Attorney
You may have information pertaining to the case which you believe goes against you, and you should keep it a secret from everyone if you want to win, except from your attorney. Lawyers are under oath to protect your interest and maintain confidentiality at all times with the information you provide them.
Billies recommends that you reveal all the details about your case, regardless of its nature, to your attorney since in the beginning, so that she/he can find the best strategy to win it for you.
Work Efficiently with Your Lawyer
Interacting with a lawyer can be either haphazardly or systematic. Billies recommends that you develop a system with your attorney, whereby you work with them instead of them working for you. What Billies does is that she gives her clients a to-do list with a schedule of phone calls. This helps her clients remain at peace and cuts down on the random calls she used to get before she established this system.
Whenever she needs information from her clients, instead of calling them up and charging them, she sends them a document with blank spaces, asking all the required questions, which her clients fill in and send her back.
You can develop a similar system with your attorney to lessen the bill as much as you can. However, what is recommended is that you settle the divorce out of court. You would still need an attorney, but only for the formalities and for a short period of time, resulting in a very low bill.
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