How to Save Money on Your Divorce Lawyer

Saving on Divorce Attorney's Fees

We all want to save a buck. And divorce can be expensive. Last week, I wrote about the factors involved in how much a Colorado divorce will cost. Here are some ways that will help you save money on your divorce attorney’s fees:

  1. PREPARE FOR YOUR PHONE CALLS. You are charged for every phone call with your lawyer or paralegal. Call only when necessary. Before calling, make a list of topics you want to discuss. When you have questions about your case, consider “saving them up” so you can ask them in one phone call or interview, rather than making a call or an appointment for each single question or concern.
  2. AVOID “PHONE TAG.” To make sure you connect with your attorney by phone, make an appointment. Some attorneys will use a paralegal or assistant for scheduling. At Kalamaya | Goscha, everyone has access to everyone’s calendar so clients can schedule a phone call with our assistant, Anna, or Rachel, our paralegal. In addition, Georgina and I use an online calendar that allows clients to directly schedule a time for a 15-, 30- or 60-minute call or meeting. Here’s a link to my calendar.
  3. WRITE DOWN QUESTIONS. If you have questions for an appointment or phone call, write them down so you’ll remember what to ask. If you email your attorney a brief numbered outline ahead of time, it helps.
  4. HOME CALLS. When you call lawyers at home, there is often an additional charge above the hourly fee. These calls should only be made regarding emergencies that must be handled immediately and cannot wait until the next business day.
  5. YOUR SFS. Spend some extra time uploading your Sworn Financial Statement. We wind up spending a lot of time with these affidavits when clients don’t come up with the figures and the calculations or provide detailed notes and documents showing how they arrived at the numbers. Provide sorted, organized, and summarized backup documents along with your information to avoid having to pay an attorney or paralegal to organize and summarize these for you. This brings us to digital files and naming them.
  6. MAKE A DIGITAL COPY. If you have documents that your attorney needs, scan them as a PDF and send via email or a file-sharing program such as Box. If the title of the digital file is clear, it also helps. We organize our documents with the year, month and date before the description. For example, if you are sending us a bank statement from ANB Bank issued on December 15, 2018, the title of the document is “2018.12.15.ANB Checking Account.” The reason is that when we click on the “Name” tab in our computer file it organizes everything you’ve sent us sequentially. All of the 2018 documents come up first because that is the beginning of the name. The 2018 documents will be further organized based on the month and then a year. Titling documents this way helps us efficiently find documents down the road.
  7. BE HONEST. Your lawyer needs to know the good and bad points of your case. The opposition will find out the bad points against you and exploit them. If you do not tell your lawyer the bad points, it will be more expensive for him or her to protect your rights and defend you.
  8. DEAL WITH THE OTHER SIDE. Do as much as possible in dealing with the other side. When we have to do everything by contacting the other attorney, rather than you contacting your spouse or ex-spouse, for example, it takes a lot of additional time and effort. If there’s a straightforward matter, such as weekend visitation or signing off on medical insurance forms, see if you can undertake that yourself.
  9. HELP WITH WITNESSES. Ask if you can help with interviewing witnesses or preparing summaries of their statements. This can save time and effort in trial preparation on the part of your attorney or paralegal.
  10. DATES AND DEADLINES. Cooperate with your attorney and keep records of dates and deadlines given to you. Make sure you do not miss any deadlines on projects assigned to you to complete.
  11. FOCUS. We know this is a difficult time in your life and understand you may have anger or resentment concerning your situation. To avoid having to pay us for “emotional consultations,” please keep your discussions focused on the legal issues at hand. We understand that lawsuits are stressful and emotionally draining. However, your lawyer is not your psychologist or psychiatrist. It is less expensive to handle your stress by regular exercise, a healthy diet, and companionship with good friends. If your condition is serious, seek professional help. Your lawyer can provide a referral.
  12. BE SELECTIVE. As parents quickly learn in dealing with child discipline issues, “Pick Your Fights” is a good motto. If you cannot afford to contest every little detail, you must be willing to forgo some smaller items for larger ones. You need to be able to trade matters of lesser importance for ones that mean a lot more to you. Make sure you plan and prioritize your goals. Keep your eye on the ball. Be willing to make concessions. Help your attorney by making a list of goals and priorities in a trial or settlement, listing them as “Must Have,” “Nice to Have,” and “Can Give Up.”
  13. KEEP YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR. Lawsuits are expensive. Sometimes the results are unfair. Seldom does anyone get everything they want in a lawsuit. Just the same, keep your sense of humor. Put things in perspective. It will save you money by preventing you from litigating nonessential points.
  14. IF YOU THINK THERE IS A BILLING ERROR . . . If you believe there is an error on your bill, contact your divorce lawyer immediately. If you believe you have been overcharged, make an appointment to discuss it with your lawyer. We do not charge for discussing billing questions or concerns.

 

Kalamaya | Goscha is an awarding-winning Colorado law firm specializing in divorcechild supportchild custody, parental relocationCollaborative Law, and premarital and marital agreements with offices located in Edwards, Glenwood Springs and Aspen. (This post is based on materials originally published by Mark Sullivan.)

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