Written by Allison R. McAlpine
Hiring a lawyer to represent you in a family law case can be expensive – we get it. Below we offer some tips on how to save legal fees when working with a lawyer in a family law case:
WORK WITH A MEDIATOR BEFORE HIRING A LAWYER
You should meet with a lawyer for a consult at least prior to mediation (that way you get a sense of the legal issues and your rights/obligations prior to mediation). A mediator is a trained independent person who can help you and your spouse come to an agreement on the various issues you are facing including property issues, custody, access, child support and spousal support. If the mediation is successful, you should get a mediation report. In order to protect yourself, a lawyer should be involved at this stage of the process to give you independent legal advice on the mediation report and to draft a separation agreement/parenting agreement.
KEEP EMOTIONAL ISSUES AWAY FROM THE LAWYER
Emotions are inherent in family law. You are going through one of the most traumatic and difficult times in your life and dealing with the aspects of life that are most important: your children and financial security. However, the emotional side of the separation/divorce should really be dealt with between yourself and a trained counsellor, social worker or psychologist – someone that can actually help you work through those issues. When a client brings emotional issues to a lawyer, the lawyer cannot help too much other than to be a comforting ear. It is much more cost-effective for the client to work with another professional who is trained in emotional issues, than it is to tell a lawyer about them. As another bonus, when you work with a trained professional on your emotional issues, you are much better prepared to work with your lawyer on the legal issues, which will save you money in the long-run.
READ OUR BLOGS
You don’t want to get information over-load when researching legal issues. So much of the law is in a “grey area” and depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. However, reading our blogs regularly will give you a good background on various legal issues.
COMBINE ISSUES INTO A MEETING, TELEPHONE CALL OR ONE EMAIL
It is common for clients to email multiple times a day on the same issue or on different issues. If it is isn’t urgent, it’s much more cost-effective to write to your lawyer at most once per day with various issues in that one email (or once per week) or set up a telephone call/face to face meeting to discuss the question. Some questions can be easily answered in an email and some can be better answered with a telephone call or meeting otherwise there will be multiple emails going back and forth.
HIRE A LAWYER FOR JUST A PART OF THE CASE
This is known as a limited scope retainer. Instead of hiring a lawyer for your full case, you represent yourself and just hire a lawyer to help you with any part of the case you need assistance with (e.g., preparing documents, letters, looking over offers or settlement proposals, going to one court date with you, providing you with advice or an opinion). It is better to hire a lawyer full-time, but if you cannot afford it then the limited-scope retainer is the next best option.
We hope that this information helps you save legal fees in working with your family law lawyer.