Skip to main content

When you are facing a divorce, it is normal to have a lot of questions about what will happen to you, your kids, your property, and your income. Equally important is the question, “How much will this cost?” So many people hiring an attorney for divorce have never hired an attorney before and they don’t understand the amount of money they will invest in this process.

The first thing to understand is that every time your attorney is working on your case, he is billing you for his time. Abraham Lincoln put it this way, “A lawyer’s time and advice are his stock in trade.” This means that every time your attorney is talking with you on the phone, talking with a potential witness, communicating with you or the opposing party over email, or drafting and editing documents to file with the court – he is billing you. All of these actions are necessary to gather information, move towards resolution, and/or advance your agenda in court. The only way your attorney earns his keep is by working on your case.

Here are a few tips you should understand to help keep your costs low throughout your divorce:

1. Work with your attorney to gather necessary financial documents and other important records.

Nobody knows the facts of your case better than you do. While your attorney is the expert on the law, you are the expert on your life and the two of you must work together to prepare a case as to how the law supports your facts. Provide documents to your attorney in a logical order. Do not just give your attorney a document with no explanation. In many cases, scheduling a meeting with your attorney to discuss the importance of records is very helpful. Not only will your attorney understand how each document plays a part in the big picture of your life, but you also will understand how the law applies to each document. At the very least, provide a written explanation of the document and point out important parts that you want to make sure the attorney recognizes. This saves time and money in the long run and better prepare you and your attorney for trial or settlement.

2. Be realistic in your expectations. 

Not everyone has a case for sole legal decision-making. In most cases, parents are going to share equal parenting time. All property acquired during the marriage will likely be split 50/50. If you are coming from a single-income household, then the income-earner will likely need to pay some amount of spousal maintenance for some period of time (but certainly not forever). If you are asking for the sun, the moon, and the stars, then your case will last longer and you will end up spending more money on attorney fees. So, be reasonable. 

3. Settle the case.

You may not get everything you want in a settlement, but it may be a fair compromise. If possible, perform some of the negotiations without your attorney (just don’t sign anything without your attorney reviewing it first). Keep in mind basic economics. Ask yourself, is it really worth spending hundreds of dollars an hour to argue why you should get the couch, or would your money be better spent buying a new couch? Settlement and compromise can significantly reduce the cost of hiring an attorney.

4. Don’t engage in stall tactics.  

The more your attorney has to work, the more you will have to pay. If you are trying to make things difficult for your spouse by dragging things out, understand that your attorney will have to work longer on the case – which will increase your costs.

Always make sure you know your attorney’s billing practices. Work hand-in-hand with him in preparing your case so you are maximizing the value of your investment. If you follow these basic principles, the cost of hiring an attorney will be worth it. If you are dealing with divorce or other family law issues, call San Tan Family Law and speak with an experienced attorney.

Leave a Reply