Family law can be expensive if both spouses cannot agree on terms. Reducing costs in family law is often a key concern. Even alternative methods to the court system, such as mediation or arbitration, can sometimes be expensive. One of the largest concerns that every client has is how to reduce their legal fees. Here are some ideas on how you can keep your legal costs down.
Do Some of the Legwork Yourself
Make sure you provide concise information to your lawyer. Know the values of your assets, debts and income. Gather the documentation to support your financial picture. This include bank account information, income tax returns, paystubs, credit card statements, mortgage documents, and pension reports. When it comes to court steps, provide your lawyer with a detailed chronological written account of what has happened.
If you believe you should have sole custody and have concerns about the other parent, write them down. If you claim you should receive spousal support because you gave up your career to assist your spouse, write down the employment details. Anything that can be done on your end to get information to your lawyer in a concise way will save time and reduce fees. The time that a lawyer spends trying to figure out what’s going on costs you money.
Reducing Costs in Family Law
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Note: this tip is a double-edged sword. Don’t send your lawyer mountains of paperwork to sort through. Sort through the information yourself and ensure that the lawyer is only getting the important details. The information should directly relate to the points you are trying to make.
Try to Come to an Agreement Outside of the Courtroom
Coming to an agreement without needing to proceed to family court will save you money. Best case scenario is you can come to an agreement with your spouse without lawyers. This is often called a “Kitchen Table Negotiation”. Family lawyers can assist you to finalize the details in a domestic agreement. If you can’t come to an agreement completely on your own, be willing to negotiate. For the cost of bringing forward one court motion, you can send and receive multiple offers for settlement. Sometimes court can’t be avoided, but if you think you can negotiate a settlement, it will take less time and less money. Be honest with your lawyer if you think settlement is impossible.
Check Your Emotions At the Door
Family law is different than other areas of litigation because the subject matter is often emotional. Make sure you are not letting your emotions take control. Don’t cause conflict with your spouse out of anger for past indiscretions. Don’t allow yourself to become unreasonable based on your spouse’s previous actions or it will delay your matter from coming to a resolution. This will greatly increase your legal fees. Try to think about your issues from an objective point of view and take emotion out of the equation. It will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Don’t Over Communicate With Your Lawyer
Lawyers charge for emails and telephone calls based on their hourly rate. Family lawyers can easily charge $350+ per hour. So make sure that when you send an email to your lawyer it is important. The same is true for phone calls. Make sure that phone calls are for a specific purpose and don’t drag on. Don’t talk about the weather. Don’t use your lawyer as an outlet to complain about your spouse or discuss their behavior. Don’t send your lawyer every email ever sent to you by your spouse to show how unreasonable they are towards you. Make sure your communications are concise and directed towards a purpose. Reducing costs in family law will make you feel better about the outcome of your case.
Read more: Am I Entitled to Spousal Support?
In addition to the above tips, one of the best ways to save on legal fees is to sign a domestic contract with your spouse before starting cohabitation or getting married. The domestic contract will outline what is to happen to your assets and how support is to be addressed. This reduces the need to argue about these items in the event of a separation.
Still have questions about reducing costs in family law? Talk to one of our lawyers in the Toronto office of ClearWay Law about domestic contracts. Toll free- 844-466-6529
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