The cost of your attorneys’ fees in a divorce or family law matter can be both emotionally painful and painfully expensive. In order to maximize your money with your lawyer, here are our best tips:
- Be clear on your goals. At McCabe Russell, PA, our divorce intake form asks clients to identify their top goals. As we assess the case, our attorneys look back to the client’s goal sheet. Goals help your attorney stay on track, but they can also help you decide what is most important as you and your ex tangle over custody schedules, personal property, and money.
- Communicate when your goals have changed. Often our clients come to us in a state of upheaval. As tempers flare and simmer, your goals may change with the clarity that time provides. But if your goals change, you need to inform the people you’re paying to strategize over how to reach your goals. A gap in understanding between client and counsel can lead to undesired consequences and money not-well spent.
- Be honest. Your attorney can protect you best if you are honest. You should be honest about even the most difficult parts of your history (Did you have sex with someone not your spouse? Have you been less-than-involved at home while working late?). Learning bad information too late impedes your attorney’s ability to protect you and to advise you early on how to correct course.
- Keep your attorney updated. Did you sleep with your ex after you filed a complaint for divorce? Did your co-parent send you a nasty gram filled with expletives? These are things your attorney needs to know. Your attorney should understand the entire picture of your dynamic with your spouse and your children. While communicating with your attorney costs money, not informing your attorney about important events will cost you more.
- But don’t interrupt your counsel multiple times a day unless you have to. Attorneys charge for their time. Each interruption to the attorneys’ day costs you money. When clients are cost-conscientious (and most of them are), clients can “bundle” their communication. For instance, if you have a question, start an email and build on that email over the course of the next day or two before sending it. It is less time-consuming (and therefore less expensive) for an attorney to answer and receive one email than to respond to seven smaller emails. Of course, emergent matters are different.
- Follow your attorney’s advice. You should trust your family law lawyer. While it may be the case that your attorney gives you options (we often do), following your attorney’s advice should usually make sense to you. Did your attorney tell you to change your passwords on your email account or start an individual bank account? If you have questions about the advice your lawyer has given you, ask them. If your gut tells you not to follow your counsel’s advice, you should always go with your gut. But if following your attorney’s advice is hard for you, you need to explore why that is.
- Document. Calendaring important facts about what is going on in your relationship with your spouse or co-parent can help you remember when you need to and help your attorney understand the timeline of events. Keep your timeline somewhere safe.
- Be organized. If you hand your attorney a stack of paper that is not organized, you will be paying someone in the attorney’s office to organize it. To the extent you can, organize each separate category of documents chronologically before giving them to your attorney. In doing the organizing yourself, you become reacquainted with your assets and communications which can only help you.
- Be responsive. Is someone from your attorney’s office trying to reach you to clear a date or collect a document? Respond as soon as you can. You don’t want to pay for repeat attempts to get the same information or to re-calendar a deposition because the date doesn’t work.
The attorneys at McCabe Russell, PA, have helped hundreds of clients through their divorce and custody matters. Please contact the firm to make an appointment for a consultation.