Laurie M. Wasserman
How to Keep Legal Fees Down in a Family Law Case
If you find yourself in contested litigation, you know how expensive the process can get. In family law, not only are you managing emotions, but you are managing your legal fees as well. Here are 5 tips to help try to keep your legal fees down in a family law case.
1. Gather documents promptly
Most family law cases, especially contested divorce, are document intensive. You will go through the “discovery” process, which is when both sides exchange relevant documents and answer questions under oath. Aside from the trial itself, discovery is typically the most expensive part of litigation. Depending on the circumstances of your case, the relevant documents needed could be several years’ worth of financial documents such as bank statements, tax returns, retirement statements, etc. You may also need to provide years’ worth of text messages and emails between you and the other side. If children are involved, you may need to provide school records, medical records, and photographs. You should start gathering these documents as soon as your case begins and provide them fully and promptly when requested. When your attorney must follow up with you about documents, it increases your fees.
2. Be organized
If the documents you provide are not organized, your attorney will need to organize for you before providing them to the other side in a way that complies with the law. So, if you bring in a box of random documents that are not sorted, your attorney will need to spend time putting them in order. Organize your documents in a logical way (ex: chronological order by request) before sending them to your attorney.
3. Convert digital documents to PDFs
It is very difficult to use screenshots or photographs of documents in discovery because we need the actual document. So, take the time to convert your documents to a PDF before sending them. If you don’t have access to a scanner, you can bring the physical documents to your attorney’s office. Most attorneys would rather scan the documents themselves than be emailed hundreds of screenshots to sort through and try to organize.
4. Invest in a text message software
Use a software such as iMazing or Decipher to export an entire text message thread into one PDF. Some attorneys have this software available at their office, but if you do it yourself at home, you save that time the attorney would spend uploading your texts. If you send hundreds of screenshots of texts, it will cost you more than the cost of the text software.
5. Label files accurately
If you email dozens of files that are unnamed or are named a random sequence of letters and numbers, your attorney needs to spend time deciphering each file is and naming it accordingly. Naming each file before you send to your attorney saves them time and saves you money.
Remember, most attorneys bill their clients on an hourly basis. This means that every time they have to do substantive work on your case, you pay for it. If you put the time into your own case, it will reduce the amount being billed. If you get overwhelmed, notify your attorney, and see how they can help you. We do this type of work all the time.
If you have questions about family law cases, including discovery, please contact our office to inquire about further information regarding family law hearings and appeals. The experienced family law attorneys at our firm are here to help guide and advocate for you.
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Disclaimer: Opinions and conclusions in these blog posts are solely those of the author unless otherwise indicated. The information contained in this blog is general in nature and is not offered and cannot be considered as legal advice for any particular situation. For legal advice, you should directly consult a lawyer to discuss the specific facts of your matter.
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