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How can I reduce the cost of my divorce?

Is there any way I can reduce some of the expenses of getting a divorce?

Litigation of any kind can be expensive, and divorces are no exception. The good news is that there are many ways that you can help control the expense. Here are some of them.

Put It in Writing. If you need to relay information that is important but not urgent, consider providing it to your attorney by mail, fax, or email. This creates a prompt and accurate record for your file and takes less time than exchanging phone messages and talking on the phone.

Keep Your Attorney Informed. Just as your attorney should keep you up to date on the status of your case, you need to do the same. Keep your lawyer advised about any major developments in your life such as plans to move or having a third party move into your home, changes in  your employment status, or purchases or sale of buy or sell property.

During your divorce, if your contact information changes, be sure to notify your attorney. Your attorney may need to reach you with information, and reaching you in a timely manner may help avoid more costly fees later.

Obtain Copies of Documents. An important part of litigation includes reviewing documents such as tax returns, account statements, report cards, or medical records. Your attorney will ordinarily be able to request or subpoena these items. You can avoid the subpoena costs by providing documents that are readily available to you, but many may be readily available to you directly upon request.

Consult Your Attorney’s Website. If your lawyer has a website, it may be a great source of useful information. The answers to commonly asked questions about the divorce process can often be found there.

Utilize Support Professionals. Get to know the support staff at your lawyer’s office. Although only attorneys are able to give you legal advice, the receptionist, paralegal, legal secretary, or law clerk may be able to answer your questions regarding the status of your case. Just as your communication with your attorney, all communication with any professionals in a law firm is required to be kept strictly confidential.

Consider Working with an Associate Attorney. Although the senior attorneys or partners in a law firm may have more experience, you may find that working with an associate attorney is a good option. Hourly rates for an associate attorney are typically lower than those charged by a senior partner. Frequently the associate attorney has trained under a senior partner and developed excellent skills as well as knowledge of the law. Many associate attorneys are also very experienced.

Discuss with the firm the benefits of working with a senior versus an associate attorney in light of the nature of your case, the expertise of the respective attorneys, and the potential cost savings to you.

Leave a Detailed Message. If your attorney knows the information you are seeking, she or he can often get the answer before returning your call. Not only will this be faster, but also reduces costs.

Discuss More than One Matter During a Call. It is not unusual for clients to have many questions during litigation. If your question is not urgent, consider waiting to call until you have more than one inquiry. Never hesitate to call to ask any legal questions.

Provide Timely Responses to Information Requests. Whenever possible, provide information requested by your lawyer in a timely manner. This avoids the cost of follow-up action by your lawyer and the additional expense of extending the time in litigation.

Carefully Review Your Monthly Statements. Scrutinize your monthly billing statements closely. If you believe an error has been made, contact your lawyer’s office right away to discuss your concerns.

Remain Open to Settlement. Be alert to recognize that when your disagreement with your spouse concerns financial matters, the legal fees to bring the matter to court may be greater than the disputed amount. By doing your part, you can use your legal fees wisely and control the costs of your divorce.

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