Having some control over the amount you spend on your divorce or custody matter is important. Many people do not understand that clients have an important role to play in their own legal expenses and fees.
Earlier this week we touched on a few ways to manage conflict and fees in a family law dispute. In addition to getting organized, being upfront about assets and disclosing relevant information and opting for alternative dispute resolution, here are some more ways to help keep costs down.
Be willing to compromise. Most people probably understand that compromise and negotiation are part of the family law process. However, some people get focused on a certain result, without consideration for what the financial cost is to fight about that particular issue. This doesn't mean you need to give up on something you feel very strongly about, but it is always helpful to revisit your position from time to time and work with your attorney to discover whether there is an alternative resolution you hadn't considered. It also helps to prioritize your goals and objectives. Ultimately, the more you are willing to compromise, the easier the process will be and that always means reduced legal fees and costs.
Sometimes a dispute about a particular asset is the result of unresolved emotions related to the loss of a relationship, anger or fear about the outcome of the divorce or simply the desire to obstruct the process. To the extent that you can resolve the emotions of your divorce outside of the negotiation process, you will save money on legal fees.
Be thoughtful about your communication with your attorney. Most family law attorneys want to be up-to-date about important developments in your case. They are better able to help you when they know about changes or concerns. However, too frequent communication with your attorney can start to add up. If you have questions, but there is no real urgency to getting them answered, it may make sense to gather them up and either email them together once a week or once every two weeks or schedule a quick phone call with your lawyer. This can help to minimize your legal fees and focus your efforts.
Avoid escalation. We know - it's so tempting to draft that email where you tell your soon-to-be-ex everything thing you dislike about him or her. Or maybe you want to post a rant on social media about how you wish they would've handled something different. Our advice is always - don't do it. It isn't helpful and in fact, it may be harmful for your case and escalate the conflict. Please be especially mindful about not using social media to describe your feelings or to discuss what you are experiencing in the divorce. It cannot help your case and usually will hurt you and your children.
Conflict escalation will most certainly increase your legal fees and costs as well as harm the potential for positive resolution down the road. If you have children together, it will also harm your ability to co-parent effectively. So, before you type out that text or pick up the phone, try to find some alternative outlet for your stress. Go for a walk, talk to a friend or therapist, and take a deep breath.