Tips for you to help keep your Family Law costs down

14 March 2019

By Lisa Wagner

We understand that divorce and separation is wrought with costs.  The emotional cost of separation and the costs of maintaining two homes can be really significant.  We understand that you need to do what you can to keep in control of the additional costs of legal representation and so we have set out some tips below to help you save money on the legal costs associated with your divorce. 

  1. Use your time with us wisely. Like most service professionals (e.g. doctors, accountants) we bill in incremental units of time.  As soon as we start working on your matter you are charged in blocks of 6 minutes of time.  To help you maximise the efficiency of our billing system it is always best to plan ahead before meeting with us or talking to us on the telephone.  Save your questions for one conversation rather than ringing every time you have something on your mind.  This can result in significant savings for you.
  1. Divorce or separation is particularly stressful and in our experience you need somebody you can talk with about the emotional issues you face. We are not trained in this area and so engaging the services of a counsellor to help you or relying on a friend may be a more appropriate alternative at times.
  1. The more work you can do for us the less work we will have to do for you. Generally we will require a lot of information.  You are usually our best source of this information.  Our checklists and questionnaires assist us to gather this information in an efficient way. This is a really good opportunity for you to save money.  Completing this “homework” means we don’t need to gather the information from elsewhere.  This can save you a lot of money. 
  1. Not only do we require lots of information but it is usually the case that this information needs to be shared with the other side. Being your own “legal assistant” and providing us with copies of documents means that we do not have to take time to copy documents and this can be a huge saving in overheads for you.
  1. Do your best to look at your divorce or separation as a business transaction as hard as that may be. It does not make any sense to pay us $500 to get you something worth only $25.  Your frame of mind in divorce or separation can often be one of the most significant components of the entire case and can have a huge bearing on how the case is run and ultimately how expensive the matter is for you.  This is equally true of your ex-partner and spouse.  If you are facing a former spouse who is resentful or hostile towards you it is likely the action is going to take longer and your fees are going to be greater than what they would otherwise have to be.
  1. Keep open to compromise. Not many spouses “win” in a divorce.  It is more a question of how well the mutual loss is controlled.  Keeping a “middle of the road” approach often makes sense.  Being flexible and creative in your thinking and working towards a settlement rather than remaining entrenched in a position is a good headspace to be in.  The more amicable the conduct between you and your “ex” the more likely the matter can be resolved quickly and the less time we will have to spend on your case which ultimately keeps your legal costs down.
  1. You should not forsake good legal support. Hiring a professional Family Lawyer is expensive.  However hiring an amateur lawyer can cost you more in the long run.  Getting proper legal advice is highly beneficial and can reduce your stress by providing you with clarity about your rights in the legal process.  On a practical note:-
  • Get legal advice early on from an experienced Family Lawyer;
  • Make notes along the way of the questions you want answered;
  • Do not try to prepare complicated documents on your own. You may save money at the start but this can become more expensive later when we need to fix any mistakes that have been made in the absence of proper legal advice;
  • Do not try to use litigation or protracted settlement discussions as a way to punish your “ex”. Your ex’s past behaviour or even their present attitude may be unpleasant or even abusive.  However it is best to concentrate on the bigger picture and secure a sensible agreement as soon as possible.
  • Provide full disclosure of all your financial interests. A failure to disclose any financial interests can have a devastating effect on any agreement you reach with your ex and can also significantly add to costs.
  • Finally, it is critically important to keep us fully informed of all significant events. However it is not necessary to copy us in on the minutiae of day to day interactions with your ex unless this is part of a “bigger” picture that is causing difficulties and needs a legal solution.

As your Family Lawyer, we take on our role with a strong depth of knowledge and experience, and with great respect for you our client.  We understand that you may be in a stressful and emotional frame of mind when you meet with us and because of this we want you to take the time to understand the above tips.  If you are able to take our tips on board we are confident that you will be able to keep your legal costs at a reasonable level and reach the right outcome for you.

Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers offer specialist family law advice in St Leonards on Sydney’s North Shore. If you have recently separated or have a Family Law enquiry, please contact us on (02) 9437 0010 or enquiries@familylawyersdw.com.au to discuss your matter in complete confidence. We have a team of experienced and caring professional family lawyers available to help you in this difficult time.

These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

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