Keys to Saving on Attorney’s Fees:
(Or, a helpful guide to getting along with your Lawyer)
Let’s face it: Nobody likes the prospect of having to see a lawyer for anything. When it comes to your divorce or custody case, the cost is a major factor. I’ve prepared the following guide to make your case as cheap as possible while getting you what you want. As a bonus, this will help your case proceed in a way that is clean, orderly, and fair, (And in a way that will make your attorney happy to see you and happy to work with you, as well). Happy reading!
- Start the Settlement Process as Early as Possible: Make no mistake; Litigation is combat. As such, it is inherently damaging to your ability to work together. Make overtures toward settlement as early as possible, ideally, before filing. If you need help, consider using a private mediator or the Collaborative method. (I can help with both).
- Keep the “back channels” open with the other party. You and the other party probably know each other well and may be able to resolve more issues than you think even after litigation has started. The more attorney’s fees you both end up spending over the process, the more likely both of you will be open to talking and saving fees.
- Learn the principle of proportionality:
- Avoid Pyrrhic victories, such as winning all the parenting time and then not having the ability to work; or trying to squeeze a support or attorney’s fees award from someone you know can’t pay it. Or spending any money at all one winning the sole right to do haircuts and trim toenails (Yes, I’ve seen that. More than once).
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. If someone is 20 minutes late to an exchange, or is rude to you, or shorts you a small amount of money, consider how long the lawyers would take to resolve it and what the cost would be in attorney’s fees to litigate the issue; or what, if anything, a judge would do about that. I’m happy to provide self-help or negotiation strategies to tackle minor issues, and I can point you to resources to help with everyday co-parenting drama.
- Tailor the remedy to the wrongdoing; for example, don’t involve police unless there’s an immediate threat to your safety, the safety of your children, or your property; Don’t involve CPS unless you have clear and damning proof of child abuse or neglect. Don’t include your kids on protective orders unless what you are alleging is so bad it merits the kids not seeing their parent for a year (a good yardstick is considering what it would do to your kids to not see you for a year).
- 6. Keep our contact regular, but only as frequent as needed—The right amount of contact with your attorney is about once a week on average. More often if there is an upcoming hearing, less often if we are waiting on the results from testing, expert witnesses, discovery requests, etc. Call or email too often and you’ll spend money to hear “No updates”; but if one or both of us leaves the case alone too long, things can unravel, so in general, don’t let me go more than 2 weeks without talking to you. Further, If I’ve given my opinion on something, look it up before contacting me. In all likelihood it won’t change unless circumstances change.
- Commit to being an open book—Fighting over what should or should not be disclosed is often an expensive process and is usually not a winning prospect. It’s usually better to disclose everything and then save fees by keeping our focus on what is most important.
- Do your homework—If I give you a project or recommend an educational resource, don’t drag your feet. Anything you do instead of me is money in your pocket. Taking advantage of me teaching you negotiation skills will keep you out of my office in the future.
- Throw Stones, not Mud: The most effective presentation is a sharp, focused, and short one. Bring me the things that are most impacting you, your kids, and your co-parenting relationship. Don’t overwhelm with a long financial history, instead, focus on the date of service, the date of marriage, and anything that had a significant impact on those dates.
- Be on time: Don’t miss your appointments, Especially not court hearings! Make sure you meet your deadlines, the most important of these being:
- Do the parent education class as early as you can—ideally you should register right after filing.
- Initial disclosure is due 40 days after service (talk to me about this when you serve or are served).
- Financial Affidavits and Inventory of Property paperwork is due about 3 weeks after getting your trial dates, but you should ideally complete these as soon as both parties have completed disclosure.
- Make certain that you have complied with any orders a judge has made in a previous hearing before you set foot in his/her courtroom again.
Get In Touch
Law Office of Grant L Stratton looks forward to speaking with you about your particular needs. Please note, however, that the mere act of contacting our firm does not create an attorney-client relationship. As a result, you should never send any confidential information to our office until a Representation Agreement has been signed by both you and Law Office of Grant L Stratton.