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Monday June 2, 2014

10 Tips to Minimize Your Legal Fees in Family Law Matters

Authored by: Jessica D. Chapman Posted in: Family Law

A divorce, separation or any family law dispute can be an emotional, stressful and very expensive process. However, there are certain steps you can take to keep your legal costs down.

1. Be honest and forthcoming.

Speak candidly to your lawyer, and formulate realistic goals and expectations as early as possible in the representation. You don’t want your lawyer spending time discovering what you could have told him/her at the onset. You also don’t want the case to drag on unnecessarily, so be honest and forthcoming from the beginning.

2. Respond to your lawyer’s requests in a timely manner.

You may be asked to provide your lawyer with written material, financial documents, etc. This is often an efficient way to get the necessary information from you in order to progress your file. The written material you provide may be used in several aspects of your case, and will result in greater efficiency for the lawyer and reduced legal fees for you. Lawyers often have deadlines they must meet and also want to be responsive to opposing counsel’s requests. You don’t want to pay extra for your lawyer to keep following up with you.

3. Make a list of your questions/concerns.

Throughout the duration of your family law file, you may have many questions, concerns and issues that you would like to discuss with your lawyer. Rather than send your lawyer an email everyday with a new question or issue that you would like to discuss, compile your questions in one succinct email or save the list for your next telephone conference or meeting.

4. Try to resolve as much as possible directly with the other party.

After you meet with a lawyer and have a grasp of your rights and obligations under the law, try to resolve as much as possible with the other party. This is easier said than done, and isn’t always an option, but the more you and the other party are able to resolve, the less money you have to spend on having your lawyer attempt to resolve those same issues.

5. Be organized.

The more organized and detailed you are with your documents and evidence, the more you may be able to keep your costs down. Be as organized as possible.

6. Pick your battles.

Make sure you prioritize the outcomes and issues which are important to you and keep focused on dealing with those issues. Getting bogged down in trivial issues which do not matter to you “in the big picture” will lead to a very high legal bill and may not lead to the ultimate outcome that is in the best interest of you and your family.

7. Arrange telephone conferences and meetings through your lawyer’s assistant.

Lawyers may bill you when they have to listen to voicemail messages you have left for them, or when they have to leave a voicemail for you. For this reason, it is a good idea not to play phone tag with your lawyer. A better method may be to contact your lawyer’s assistant to book a telephone or in-person appointment with your lawyer. If the question is non-legal in nature, for example “did the opposing party provide us with their financial disclosure yet?”, it may be more cost-effective to speak to your lawyer’s assistant, to see if they can help you.

8. Take notes.

Consider taking notes during your meetings and telephone calls with your lawyer so that you don’t have to ask the same question twice. Always remember that your lawyer will bill you for his/her time, so make the most efficient use of it.

9. Try not to use your lawyer as emotional support.

The frustrations that can be associated with family law matters are difficult to deal with alone. Family law lawyers are not professionally trained to offer counselling advice and, while we enjoy talking to our clients, we suggest that you seek out a healthy support network. A trained counsellor will be better trained to help you deal with stress, anxiety and frustrations and will generally charge much less than a lawyer.

10. Use email efficiently.

Keep in mind that your lawyer is likely receiving a high volume of emails every day from other clients and opposing lawyers, and may not be able to respond to you immediately. Keep your questions short and clear. Ask your lawyer which mode of communication they prefer.

Connect with a member of our team today to schedule your free half hour consultation. To contact a member of our Family Law team call us at 902-469-9500 or 1-866-339-3400.

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