Notwithstanding the spite and revenge one or both parties may be feeling during a divorce, since the great recession, and now especially during the pandemic, divorce litigants have become more cost conscious. Many litigants going through a divorce no longer want to litigate every minor issue, but instead want a fair settlement, for a reasonable fee.
While many attorneys strive to achieve a fair resolution for their clients at a reasonable fee, attorneys do not want to commit malpractice by oversimplifying a case or reaching a settlement where the client is not fully informed. Attempting to balance the client’s desire for a quick and inexpensive divorce against the attorney’s obligation to achieve a fair resolution for the client and avoiding malpractice can be tricky.
Here are six tips to help mitigate your attorney’s fees when going through a divorce
- Consolidate your calls. Rather than call your attorney every time you have a question, write down your questions and unless it is an emergency, consolidate your questions into one call, rather than three or four. Most attorneys will charge a minimum fee for any telephone conversation so clients can save money by calling fewer times. Most attorneys do not mind taking your telephone calls whenever you have a question, but you may not like it much when you get your bill at the end of the month.
- Whenever possible, speak with staff. Staff will be able to answer your most nonlegal questions and you are billed less for their time than you are for attorney’s. Many attorneys will not bill for some, or even any, telephone calls with most staff.
- Use email. Rather than call your attorney and not having completely thought out your question, write your question and email it. Many attorneys charge less for an emails than telephone conversations. Further, if your attorney doesn’t know the answer off the top of his or her head you may be charged for a second call if it has to be researched and call you back. Most important, you have a record of what your attorney told you that you may reference later in your case and not be billed for duplicative questions.
- Organize your documents, thoughts and promptly provide your attorney with any information or answers he or she requests. Every time an attorney has to follow up or request information a second time, it costs you money.
- Agree to as many issues as possible, no matter how simple. Not only does agreeing to minor issues “take them off the table,” but often will provide positive momentum to resolve additional issues. For the issues that you are unable to agree, at least stipulate to a mechanism to resolve the issues, such as a joint expert or arbitration.
- Simply your case as much as possible for your attorney so that your attorney may simplify the issues for the judge. Simple solutions to complicated issues are efficient and cost effective. From the beginning, it is important to allow your attorney to establish reasonable expectations regarding what outcome you may expect in your case. Do not allow your attorney to tell you what he or she thinks you want to hear. Be clear that you want their honest opinion and evaluation of your case.