Divorce proceedings can be expensive, particularly when issues of custody, visitation, property division, or other financial matters are hotly contested. However, you can help manage and lessen your own legal costs. Here are a few of the best and easiest ways.
You can do some of the work yourself and avoid having the lawyer spend his time and your money on the project. For example, you can review and chart financial issues regarding income and expenses. Account histories can be provided, and money moving from account to account can be traced. Assets and liabilities can be listed, described, and valued. Histories and facts regarding custody and visitation issues can be summarized. You’ll save legal fees by doing this work yourself – and you, after all, are the best person to do the work, as you are more familiar with the details of your case than your lawyer is.
When your attorney requests information or paperwork from you, respond promptly. If you don’t respond and your lawyer has to make follow-up calls for the information, you will incur unnecessary legal expenses. When you provide the materials to the lawyer, be sure that they are as complete and accurate as possible. You might even index or list the items you are providing. If you are missing some of the materials, be sure to explain this to your lawyer and identify the missing items.
Sometimes, clients take matters into their own hands and act without first consulting their attorneys. This is a mistake, as a client’s action might cause a problem that the lawyer then must deal with. So before taking action in connection with money matters or the children, speak with your lawyer first. Tell him what you have in mind, so that he may advise you and help you steer clear of unnecessary problems. This keeps your legal issues, and your fees, to a minimum.
These are some simple, common-sense ways for you to help yourself by being a good client.
Jay A. Frank is a senior divorce practitioner with Aronberg Goldgehn in Chicago. He has been selected as one of the top family-law attorneys in Illinois. With more than 35 years of experience, he focuses his practice on all aspects of Illinois family law. He can be reached at (312) 828-9600. View his Divorce Magazine profile.