Many clients wonder how to keep not only their cost of divorce down but also to not go over their retainer. Here are some ways to keep down billing:
Have a Clear Attorney Contract: Make sure to have a copy of your attorney contract and to fully understand the contract before you sign it. The attorney contract should include the billable hours for your attorney, paralegals, and legal assistants who will work on your case.
Understand the Attorney’s Billing: Do not be afraid to ask questions about billing in the consultation or during your case. Also, paralegals and legal assistants are billed at a lower hourly rate than attorneys. It is important to know if the attorney will be the only individual working on your case or if support staff will be as well. Your retainer will run out quickly if the attorney is doing the majority of the work on your case. Lastly, be sure to be receiving an itemized statement from the attorney so, you can see what is being charged against your retainer.
Communicate Wisely: While it is important to call the attorney’s office with an emergency or any questions make sure to use your time wisely. Many times clients will call with questions that have already been answered in documents sent to them or just to vent their frustrations. Before calling the office make sure to take the time to write out all the questions and concerns you would like to address this avoids multiple phone calls. Also, do not jump the gun on calling concerned about a document that was sent to you before reading and digesting the document first. For example, if the discovery was sent to you normally there is a letter that will accompany it explaining the discovery and when it is due. Many times clients call and have not read the discovery letter and the questions they asked are answered in the letter.
Experience Matters: Do your research on Family law attorneys. Make sure the attorney has experience in your county and experience in Family Law. While experienced attorneys may have higher retainers and hourly rates it will save you a lot of money and heartache than an inexperienced attorney who does not handle the case properly. In divorce cases with minor children if the parenting plan and child support are not done properly in the divorce it may result in a modification case. Modification cases tend to be higher retainers and cost more than divorces.
Other Money-Saving Tips: Many times attorneys will scan-in documents and send discovery digitally to the opposing party. If the client scans in the documents and delivers them via a cloud service or flash drive this will save the expense of attorney’s office scanning them in. Make sure to organize and label the documents before sending them over.