5 Tips for Keeping Your Attorney Fees Down During Your Divorce

1.Save up several questions, concerns, etc. for one e-mail (within reason). It takes a lot less time (and, therefore, costs you a lot less money) if I review and respond to one e-mail with 8 things in it than it is for me to review and respond to 8 separate e-mails. So if something does not require an immediate response from me, save it for an e-mail with several other less urgent questions. 

That having been said, sometimes checking in with me before acting is the smarter move while your divorce or custody case is pending. For example, writing me a quick, “I’m thinking of doing [insert thing you’re thinking of doing]. Will it hurt my case?” and me responding “It’s ok to do that. Go ahead.” or “Do not do that under any circumstances!!!” is a lot cheaper than the time I will spend trying to “undo” or “fix” the damage you did to your divorce or custody case by doing something you shouldn’t have done.

2. Remember, I’m your lawyer, not your therapist. The main purpose of my job is to help you with your legal issues during your divorce or custody case. Although I am usually sympathetic or empathetic to personal problems, it is way too expensive to have me address things that are not really legal issues or to have me help you work through any anger, trust, resentment, or other lingering issues you may have due to the end of your relationship. Turning to friends, family, or a therapist is probably cheaper (and better for you) and will greatly reduce the attorney fees you spend on your divorce or custody case.

3. Take the high road. The following are phrases I have said to clients more times than I care to admit. “It’s okay to let your ex have the last word.” “If there’s a chance to avoid escalating the situation, don’t escalate the situation.” “Just because he/she threw mud at you doesn’t mean you have to throw mud back.”

When people in a divorce get locked in a game of tit-for-tat, things usually just escalate until both parties are constantly complaining to their attorneys and racking up attorney fees unnecessarily. It’s especially wasteful when there is nothing the attorneys can do because being a jerk is not against the law (but please don’t take that as free reign to be a jerk yourself).

You always want to be seen by the court as the more reasonable party. Look at it this way: if your ex slings mud at you and you throw mud back then he/she thrown more mud then you throw more mud back by the time you get to court, the judge just sees two unreasonable idiots in a mud fight. But if your ex repeatedly throws mud at you and you don’t throw any back, when you get to court your ex will appear far more unreasonable to the judge. 

Divorce and custody cases are marathons, not sprints. Getting hit by mud and not retaliating will be incredibly unsatisfying in the short-term but pays off in the long-term and will keep your attorney fees down. Remember that!

4. Stick to our game plan and keep on top of deadlines. If I say, “Do A, B, & C. Do A by X date, B by Y date, and C by Z date,” do those things by those dates. The more e-mails or phone calls I have to make asking, “Where are those documents that were due yesterday?” the more it’s going to cost you. Also, don’t wait until the last minute to do things. Many deadlines I give are because there are court deadlines involved. If you miss a court deadline, it could have major repercussions on your divorce or custody case which could end up costing you a lot more money in attorney fees in the long run.

5. Don’t be afraid to take realistic positions and compromise on things. Generally, the more unreasonable you are, the more attorney fees skyrocket out of control. If you can’t compromise on anything, your case will probably head to trial and trials are expensive. That doesn’t mean you should cave on everything. What it means is that, almost no divorce is ever resolved without reasonable compromises. So think about what things you can compromise on and what things you absolutely cannot.  Part of that process is being realistic in your positions. For example, you may want 50-50 parenting time but you have a job where you’re required to travel out-of-state 20 days each month. Holding out for 50-50 parenting time is not a realistic position and is something you should be willing to compromise on. Compromising smartly and strategically helps keep attorney fees down during divorce and custody cases.

Tapestry Family Law Blog

Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.

Kofi Annan

The articles in this blog are intended to help educate you on some common issues people in Oregon face during divorces, custody disputes, and other family law matters.

The information provided is general and is not intended to be legal advice for any specific case. Reading these articles is not a substitute for consulting with a family law attorney.

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