Divorce Lawyer Fees
Divorce is wrought with cost. Emotional cost of a failed relationship, the cost to children living in a two home family and the cost of maintaining two households. Then, of course, there is the divorce lawyer fees. At hundreds per hour, divorce lawyer fees in a divorce can easily be in the tens of thousands. The fact of the matter is that competent legal representation is expensive. That does not mean that you can’t help yourself to save money on divorce lawyer fees and costs associated with divorce.
First you must understand how divorce lawyer fees work. Most of us are comfortable with the idea of fixed divorce lawyer fees. Divorce lawyers bill for their time. The more time the lawyer invests in your case, the higher the divorce lawyer’s fees will be. With this basic understanding you will be better able to comprehend and manage divorce lawyer fees.
Time is the commodity. If you are unclear, don’t be afraid to ask your lawyer what he does charge for, and what he does not charge for. People don’t always know that time on the telephone can be charged. Sometimes divorce lawyer fees include any time spent dealing with the case -- including you taking your lawyer out to lunch. Get clarification so that you don’t unknowingly request services that will be included in the divorce lawyer fees. Also be prudent in your purchase of legal services. The more of your lawyer’s time that you use, the more you are going to pay. Appreciate that your lawyer needs to be kept apprised of significant events in your life. However, you do not have to swamp him with minutiae. Making sure your lawyer has knowledge of every hour in your days is not necessary.
In Divorce lawyer fees, most lawyers bill in incremental time. The concept is not unique. Most service professionals (doctors, dentists, accountants) base their efforts, and prices, on measured units of time. In the case of lawyers those units are typically blocks of minutes. For instance, many lawyers will be in six minute increments. As soon as the work starts, you are charged every six minutes. If you have a seven minute conversation, that is two six minute increments. To realize maximum efficiency under this system plan ahead before meeting with or talking to your lawyer. Save your questions for one conversation, rather than calling up your lawyer every time you have something on your mind.
Divorce is stressful. You want someone with whom you can talk through your emotional issues. Your lawyer is not that person. Lawyers are trained in legal problem solving, not mental health. Therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals are better trained and equipped to help you resolve your emotional issues. Most likely there services will also be less expensive then the divorce lawyer fees.
Divorce lawyer fees include lawyers requiring information. The lawyer’s first, best, most obvious source of information is her client. Skilled divorce lawyers have tools in place to help them gather the information that they must have. Questionnaires, check lists, etc., are all common information gathering devices. If your divorce lawyer utilizes any of these tools, it is a wonderful opportunity for you to save money. Invest the time and energy to complete the homework your lawyer gives you. If you don’t, your lawyer will have to invest the time (hence your money) to gather the information elsewhere. Along the same lines, educate yourself. The more information you have in your own mind about your family expenses, assets, obligations, etc., the faster and easier it will be for you to explain your situation to your lawyer.
Information is a recurring theme in divorce. As we have explained, your own lawyer requires information to adequately represent you. Another frequent component of divorce lawyer fees is sharing of that information with the other side. Copies of bank statements, vehicle title certificates, investment account statements, loan documents, credit card statements, pay stubs, tax returns all have to be delivered to the adverse party. If you can provide these records to your attorney, he will not have to take the time to get them for you.
Another cost saving measure to keep in mind is photocopying. Copy machines are an overhead item for lawyers that are passed through to the client. For large volume copying jobs a cheaper alternative is the commercial copy shop. Ask your lawyer if you can take the originals down to the copy shop, and doing or pay for the copying yourself. You will save on per page charges, and the time charges. It is not unheard of for clients to also act as "runners" for the lawyer. Filing documents at the courthouse, delivering documents to the other attorney, can all be cheaper alternatives to attorneys, legal assistants, or couriers doing the work.