Did you know that you can have some control over your legal fees and costs in a family law proceeding? Many of our clients are surprised by this when we mention ways to minimize the financial impact. However, many family law attorneys and professionals work with clients to focus their resources in the most efficient and economic way possible.
Here are some helpful ways to help minimize your legal fees and costs.
Get organized. If you have access to your family's income information, bank accounts, tax information, retirement statements and other relevant financial information you can do a lot of the heavy lifting for your attorney. While an attorney can provide you with a list of exactly what documents you will need, you are the best source of gathering that information. If your attorney or their staff doesn't need to follow up with you or gather the information themselves, you will save money on your legal fees.
Be upfront about your assets and disclosing relevant information. This goes hand-in-hand with getting organized. The family law process, especially divorce, requires full disclosure of financial information about assets, debts, income and property. This requirement is addressed informally between the attorneys and more formally by submitting a sworn financial statement. If this information is misrepresented, or information is omitted, then you or the other party may seek formal discovery or even seek to reopen the case after the final decree. Of course, all of this costs money - a lot of money - to resolve. No one gets to hide anything as part of the divorce process and the courts will hold parties' accountable. Save your resources by disclosing everything up front.
If you fail to openly and honestly disclose all financial information, your attorney may have to stop representation and withdraw as your legal counsel. In the end, the tactic of incomplete financial disclosures or a failure to disclose an asset will cause the costs of your case to rise dramatically. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your family law attorney for advice.
Opt for alternative dispute resolution (ADR). While mediation is often required in Colorado, investing your time and energy in the process can save you money in the long run. The ADR options of mediation, collaborative divorce, arbitration, early neutral evaluation and even a straightforward negotiation can help save you thousands of dollars over the course of your proceeding. These options save you money because preparing for court is expensive and trying a case is even more expensive.
These are just some of the ways that you can help minimize the financial impact of a family law matter. You should always be up front with your attorney about fees and costs. Your attorney will appreciate having a candid discussion so that they can better manage resources as they approach the case. They can help you focus your energy where it should be - on your family.
Part 2 of this post on how to manage and minimize legal fees to follow this week.