Five ways to save money in a divorce
I’ve been practicing family law for over 20 years and I have had the pleasure of serving thousands of people as they tried to move through the process of ending their relationship with the “one” person they used to love. During this time frame, I developed five ways for my clients to save money during their divorce.
1. Be honest with yourself and your lawyer: Lawyers bill by the hour and wasted time is wasted money; YOURS! Lawyers rely upon what their clients tell them to be truthful and base their actions (stuff you get billed for) on what they learn from their clients. I have determined, in providing representation to people in a family law case, that my client is sometimes the biggest obstacle to my efficiency because my client has not been honest with themselves about the circumstances that led them to meeting with me in my office. To help you avoid this pitfall, ask yourself, before you meet with your lawyer, why you may lose your case, what is your biggest concern, and/or what will my spouse say about _________. Make sure you write-down whatever comes to your mind and avoid the urge to minimize your role in the demise of your marriage. If you are brutally honest with yourself, before you meet with your lawyer, you will be prepared to provide your lawyer with a more complete picture of what your case is about. In in turn, your lawyer will be able to provide you with a strategy for moving forward and you won’t pay for any wasted time spent on your case.
RULE: TELL YOUR LAWYER THE HARD TRUTH!
2. Do the Heavy Lifting: I am amazed when I get to a point in the case where I know the “facts” better than my client. As you might expect, this is a place you need to avoid if you want to have a successful outcome (however you define it) to your case on a reasonable budget. This situation arises when my client either fails to provide me with the information that I need to be successful, or the information that is provided is inadequate. As lawyers are charged with an ethical duty to represent their clients zealously within the bounds of the law (I also do not like to lose) and my cases generally involve kids who need help, I find it incumbent upon me to prepare myself for the case, with or without the help of my client. The extra effort that it takes for me to prepare in this way usually doubles the cost of a given case. To do the heavy lifting, find out from your lawyer: (a) What you need to prove in court, (b) How you prove it, (c) What is the best type of evidence to use, (d) Where the evidence can be found, (e) How to get the evidence and then; JUST DO IT! This process will make you the expert on your case, increase the likelihood you achieve your desired result, and save you money.
RULE: ORGANIZE THE INFORMATION YOU WANT YOUR LAWYER TO USE TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR CASE!
3. Prepare to Meet with Your Lawyer: In my experience a lot of time is wasted during client meetings, whether in person or over the phone. In an effort to minimize the amount of time that is wasted during a meeting, I generally tell my client what I need to meet with them about so they are prepared to discuss the issue or issues with me at the time of the meeting. The simplest way to save your money during your divorce is to not call, e-mail, or text your lawyer every time you have a question. I recommend that you write down your questions and then schedule a face-to-face meeting so that you can go through your list of questions and have them answered. If you e-mail your lawyer the list of questions before the meeting, you will enable your lawyer to be prepared to discuss and answer the questions that you have.
RULE: ALWAYS BE PREPARED OR YOU ARE WASTING YOUR MONEY!
4. Keep Great Records: I always ask my clients to provide me with a timeline of the events that led up to the circumstances that caused them to make an appointment to see me. This timeline is an effective method for me to prepare my clients to educate me about the case in a cost-effective manner. The creation of the timeline also prepares you for giving testimony under oath (which is stressful) by organizing the events chronologically in your mind. In addition, if you organize your calendar entries, emails, phone records, text messages, photographs, Facebook posts, and all the other sources of information into one concise chronologically organized timeline, you will you will have done all the “heavy lifting.” However, do not stop after you have created your initial timeline. Keep the record up to date as the case proceeds.
RULE: CREATE AND KEEP GREAT RECORDS!
5. Keep Your Lawyer Off Speed Dial: in today’s electronic age the ability to contact your lawyer at all times of the day and night is limitless and, as lawyers are ethically required to respond to their clients communication, the more frequently you contact your lawyer, the more money you are spending. I find that at the beginning of the case, while emotions are running high, people need someone to talk to and often it is their lawyer.
RULE: TALK WITH YOUR LAWYER ABOUT LEGAL AND FACTUAL ISSUES THAT CONCERN YOUR CASE!
If you have any questions about a family law matter, call CKC for a free initial consultation to sit down and discuss your questions.