“I’m afraid my legal costs will escalate out of control during my divorce. How can I help keep them at a reasonable level?”
Legal costs can become exorbitant for any number of reasons. Often, anger and emotions get in the way of sound financial decisions. A client needs to weigh the cost of litigating an issue compared to the likely result. A person who is particularly angry and combative, or too emotionally distraught to make sound decisions should seek psychological counseling. Using your divorce case to vent your anger will escalate legal fees and may adversely affect your case. You have the right to your emotions, but you must keep them in check so that you can concentrate on how to get the best possible result without unreasonable expense.
Many states have no-fault divorce laws. Therefore, issues such as adultery by your spouse may have no relevance to the financial outcome of your case. You must get past the notion that you are entitled to something extra because of your spouse’s adultery or other misconduct.
Fighting over used furniture is one area where you can incur more attorneys’ fees than the fight can be worth. The furnishings in a home may seem important but you are fighting over used items that generally have little economic value in a divorce case.
Fighting about custody and visitation can be very expensive. Unless one parent is truly unfit and a danger to the children, a fight for sole custody is not justified. Time and money is better spent crafting a visitation schedule that works for both parents and the children than fighting to deny a parent time with the children.
Providing necessary financial information to your attorney is another way to keep costs down. A lot of attorneys’ fees can be reduced by not trying to hide assets or stalling production of needed financial documents.
Assist your attorney in getting your case resolved. Don’t stall. Don’t take positions that you know will be rejected outright by the other side and don’t hide anything from your attorney.
Finally, never fight on “principle.” Be realistic. Principle becomes less and less important as legal fees grow. Compromise when you can; litigate only when you must.
Joel H. Feldman is a Managing Member of the Law Office of Feldman & Schneiderman. He has been practicing law in south Florida for 24 years and is rated “AV” and “Preeminent” by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Publications.
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