It is no surprise that with the Covid-19 pandemic, more people are filing for divorce and many individuals have been affected financially with job losses or have had their business impacted to some degree. A divorce or family law case can be expensive, however there are ways you can keep costs down with these tips.
1. Prepare a Written Letter
Every family law case comes with a unique story, set of facts, and many details that generally you will not have time to go over in depth in an initial consultation. Family law cases often involve filing declarations with the court which cover issues related to parenting, finances, employment, child support, and so on. It’s important for your attorney to get an accurate timeline of major events and the background of in your case. Include dates for all major events, your desire for resolution for any disagreement, items you believe you and the opposing party will agree on, and questions or concerns you may have. Providing this statement to any attorney you retain will help assist them in understanding your case better and presenting relevant facts to the court. Provide your attorney with a summary of weak points in your case and be transparent from the beginning with regards to any issues you think the other party may raise. It is important to disclose your criminal history or facts that may hurt your case in order for your attorney to be well prepared and best represent you.
2. Organize Evidence and Documents
Your attorney may ask you to provide financial records, tax returns and employment documents, statements from witnesses, proof of expenses, police reports, screenshots of conversations with an opposing party, photos, etc. Having your documents organized and labeled into folders, whether digitally or physically, and delivering all documents at once will avoid additional time and expense of your attorney sifting and organizing papers. Label statements, text messages, third parties and their relation to the case, and what each document helps support. List all assets, debts, description and last 4 digits of all accounts, and what your goals are for division of all items. List the make, model, year of purchase for all items and what was acquired during the marriage versus prior to the marriage or post-separation. Putting together summaries of communication, list all your arguments, and provide summaries of financial documents if possible. Provide a summary of your income earnings if you are self employed or do not receive W-2’s.
3. Effective Communication with Your Attorney and Staff
It is important to know how your attorney prefers you get in touch with them regarding your case. Some attorneys prefer they be contacted directly, and some have a legal assistant that can assist in most cases. If your communication requires review of documents, it is helpful to send those to your attorney along with your questions so they have time to review, research, and prepare for your meeting or phone call. Most family law attorneys charge by the hour and per email or phone call, so having a list of questions and points of discussion prepared will help you keep costs down.
4. Understand What the Costly Aspects of Your Case May Be
Every family law case is different and it is important to know what part of your case may be more costly. For example, obtaining a Guardian Ad Litem, conducting private investigations, obtaining multiple appraisals or business valuations, or taking the other party to court for every single issue is time consuming and expensive. Discuss with your attorney what legal actions are necessary to take in your case, and what may be optional or not necessary to achieve your goals. If you are not able to retain an attorney to fully represent you, you may want to discuss the option of limited scope representation where your attorney can assist you on just certain aspects of your case or advise you on how to proceed on your own. You may also ask your attorney what items you can assist with to bring down costs. For example, obtaining police reports for your case is something you can do and provide to your attorney.
It is very helpful for attorney to have a written timeline of all events, issues with co-parenting, missed visits, and anything you believe is important for your attorney to know about your case and your children. Providing a detailed log to your attorney of major events along with witnesses present and the exact date of occurrence will greatly reduce your costs as your attorney will not need to clarify details as frequently, saving you money.
6. Be Open to Settling on Issues.
In a divorce or family law matter, tensions run high and sometimes you and the other party are both set on “winning” every aspect of the case without considering the financial impact it may have, and often there are issues that can be settled if both parties are willing to meet in the middle. For example, you may want to come to an agreement on personal property items with the other party and your attorney may encourage this as often the costs of litigating over personal property can be more than the value of the items in controversy.
Here at Navigate Law Group we aim to provide quality legal representation while helping you preserve your finances. If you need assistance with your family law matter, please reach out to schedule an appointment.
Every legal issue is very unique. Accordingly, the information in this blog is intended as general education material and not as legal advice. If you think you may have a legal issue you should consult an attorney.