Navigating through a divorce can be very painful and oftentimes brings out a lot of unwanted emotions in couples going through the process. After a spouse or spouses decide on a divorce, the costs of a divorce, both in attorney’s fees and costs are sometimes surprising. The cost of divorce in Florida varies greatly depending on whether the divorce involves children, significant property, emotions, etc. Fortunately, there are ways to substantially lower the financial burden of a divorce.
Always do the Research in Advance
Never take blind suggestions when the time comes to choosing a divorce attorney. Like one would do for any important event in life, couples research lawyers. Ask friends and family who had gone through the process, review AVVO Ratings, view the website of the attorney and most importantly, meet with an attorney. There are so many callers who would rather talk on the phone than meet face-to-face with their attorney. Oftentimes, I am hired without meeting a client in person because of a deadline of the client. I do not charge an initial consultation fee. I don’t believe in such initial fees for family law cases. Clients need to meet with their lawyers before hiring them. Discuss your financial issues with your lawyer and your goals for the resolution of your divorce case.
Get the Documentation and Personal Finance Records Organized
Divorce is much more than the physical separation of the couple. Divorce also involves significantly financial issues of the parties. In Florida, parties much each exchange a set of standard documents with each other, called “Mandatory Disclosure.” I provide the list of documents to my clients during the initial meeting. Providing these documents timely to your attorney, without the staff and attorneys having to follow-up with you saves time and money. If clients are going to be late, attorneys have to file motions for extension of time to respond or objections may be waived. Filing such motions and attending court increases the cost of divorce.
Attorneys often must employ forensic accountants, consultants and other personal and business finance experts to arrive at a settlement that would be agreeable to the parties in contested divorces. That means employing specialists and professionals which would mean extra costs and expenses. Getting financial records sorted out in advance drastically cuts expenses involved.
Communicate through Email
Time and attorney spends on clients’ cases communicating with clients, either in person or talking over the phone will be billed to clients. Whenever possible, be judicious of the costs when communicating. Use email for answers to short questions. This will probably save you significant money in attorney’s fees over the life of a divorce case. However, by all means, if you need to talk to your attorney about pressing issues or questions, do not be afraid to do so. Always cc emails to your attorney’s paralegal. Oftentimes, may have an answer for you that does not require the attorney’s time. For instance, a routine question regarding discovery deadline or when a deposition is, and the like.
Plan for the Personal Time Needed with the Attorney
Attorneys usually set office meetings to review discovery responses (answers to interrogatories and responses to requests for production), to prepare for mediation, to prepare for depositions and for evidentiary hearings and trial. Prepare for those meeting as well. Write down any questions you have or issues you want to discuss. This will cut down on the length of such meetings and reduce follow-up meetings or telephone conferences.
Choose Mediation over Litigation
Spouses will save money by opting for mediation soon after filing, rather than later. As a divorce attorney, I try to have mediation set within 2-3 months of filing, if I have the documents I need from my client and the opposing party. I recommend mediation before the more costly events, such as depositions, court hearings, hiring of expert witnesses, parenting coordination, etc. Mediations for most divorces conclude in 2-4 hours. The savings for concluding a divorce case at an early mediation may be many thousands of dollars.
Request that your attorney send you a bill monthly, even if you still have money left on your retainer. This way you can discuss any issues you have early on and help budget as well.
The trial attorneys at Van Riper and Nies Attorneys an Army Ranger Veteran-owned law firm, have successfully represented injured clients in Broward, Palm Beach, Martin County and St. Lucie counties. This article is not a substitute for legal advice. For more information about our Family Law practice call 800-650-1243.