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Five Ways to Limit Divorce Legal Fees

Ways to Limit Divorce Legal Fees

It is no secret that if you are facing a separation or divorce, you need an experienced Raleigh Divorce Attorney to represent you. The advice, guidance, case management, and representation you receive from a good divorce lawyer are invaluable.

The problem is that paying for that representation can be next to impossible for most people. How many stories have you heard about people spending mind-numbing amounts of money on legal fees in a divorce?

Top 5 Ways to Keep Divorce Fees Down

Here are the top five ways to limit the sticker shock and handle your divorce in a way you can afford.

1. Educate Yourself About Divorce Law

This does not mean try to become a divorce lawyer yourself or regularly second guess your attorney’s legal opinions. What we mean is that you should learn the basics of divorce law so that you can understand in a basic way how it works. For example, Equitable Distribution (property division in North Carolina), means that, for the most part, property acquired during the marriage and prior to the separation is marital and subject to being divided by the Court between parties. This includes:

  • Assets
  • Debts
  • Retirement
  • Anything else you earned or acquired during the marriage

More often than not, the division is equal but can be unequal in some cases. Knowing this, you are less likely to insist that you receive 90% of all the marital assets (in terms of value) in order to settle your case and avoid trial. Additionally, you will know that if your lawyer is suggesting you go to trial with the hopes of receiving 90% of the marital estate, then he or she may be providing you with bad and expensive advice.

Of course, there are many other factors that can give you more leverage or influence on how you handle one aspect of your divorce, and in some cases, such demands may be reasonable for example if you are waiving a valid alimony claim in exchange.

The point is that you really should learn enough about how divorce law works to gain a basic understanding and make solid realistic decisions.

2. Choose the Right Attorney

We believe that all Divorce Lawyers should aggressively represent their clients, however, that trait can be dramatically oversold. Hiring a fire-breathing, overly emotional attorney will cost you more and often lead to poor results.

Divorce attorneys are aware that many people facing divorce are in a vulnerable and emotional state. Many want some form of revenge or at a minimum to inflict some damage on their spouse. It's human nature. Some divorce attorneys play into those emotions consciously or unconsciously in an effort to convince you to hire them and ultimately spend more money.

Be Careful with a Destructive Legal Approach

Beware of the attorney that focuses too much on destroying the other guy and not enough on the results you actually want to achieve. Your divorce lawyer should counsel you not only on how to fight but also how to avoid fighting if there are ways to get what you want without a nasty and expensive trial or court proceeding.

Hire an Attorney that Meets YOUR Unique Needs

In the end, the client will choose the path the lawyer should take but you should know going in that the more you fight, the more you pay. Do not hire an attorney based upon whether or not they share your anger at your spouse because, in truth, they do not. The fact is they represent people just like your spouse all the time, and if your spouse had consulted with them first they would be acting as though they were angry at you. Choose an experienced, measured attorney, with actual trial and negotiation experience who talks to you about achieving your goals both in and out of court.

Your lawyer is there to help you make good decisions, not just decisions that feel good.

3. Compromise

Negotiating realistically and in good faith will save you money in almost every case. If you go into your divorce thinking it is your way or the highway on every subject, and believe that the Judge is going to rule in your favor on every count of every claim after you tell your story, then know at the beginning that you are going to be paying tens of thousands of dollars to your lawyer.

Compromising In Divorce Does Not Mean You Are Giving In

We aren't suggesting that you start “giving in” on important points as soon as any negotiations start, but know that without some reasonable compromises, you are not going to settle anything and you will likely wind up in court.

Sometimes the decision to go to trial is absolutely the correct one, however, sometimes it's necessitated by stubbornness, bad legal advice, anger, or a combination of all of these issues on one side or the other. Any good divorce lawyer will assist you in formulating a negotiating strategy that will achieve the reasonable goals you and your lawyer should work together to set.

But just understand, if you insist on getting the better of your spouse on every single issue in negotiation, you are going to spend considerably more in legal fees, risk an unnecessary trial, and likely wind up in about the same place you would have been had you negotiated reasonably in the first place.

Hire an experienced divorce attorney with a balanced approach, and let them guide you with regard to what is likely to happen if you were to go trial and work from that basis upward to get a good settlement, but avoid stubbornly sticking to unjustified and unrealistic demands (if the other side is being at all reasonable) as that will guarantee that you wind up in court and cause your legal fees to skyrocket.

4. Budget Your Divorce Case

Most attorneys will be straight with you about how much your case is likely to cost, so have a frank, realistic discussion about your options and the best way to RESOLVE your case with the money that you have or can raise in the future.

We have seen many clients who are left scrambling after their extremely expensive attorney withdrew from their case after plowing through a $10,000 retainer in a couple of weeks of analyzing the case and in preliminary negotiations.

Don’t Be Fooled by a High Cost Divorce Attorney

It may be that if your case was fairly simple, another lawyer could have taken your case to trial or arbitration for a similar amount and you could have been finished. To put it another way, do not hire someone that you know you cannot afford, regardless of how good they may be. If a five or ten-thousand-dollar retainer was incredibly difficult for you to raise, and you are not sure you will be able to raise another one, you really should think very carefully and discuss this fact with your attorney before you hire them.

5. Make Good Business Decisions

Divorce law typically involves any combination of three potential areas:

Two of the three are, at the end of the day and in the eyes of the law, about money more than anything else. The best way to think of alimony and equitable distribution resolutions is to consider whether or not taking a deal or going to trial makes economic and financial sense.

Your divorce lawyer can advise you on the risks of trials, the various possible outcomes, and the possible rewards of a favorable result in court. They should also provide you guidance with a range of how much you can expect it to cost you in legal fees. Then it is up to you to make an informed decision. Try to take emotions out of the equation as much as possible.

In any case, remember that court is never a sure thing, and while sometimes it is well worth the risk, you should always carefully consider all of the possible outcomes in deciding what to do.

Speak with a Raleigh Divorce Lawyer about Divorce Legal Fees

The best way to ensure a successful outcome to your divorce case is to have a professional attorney at your side. If you are unsure of handling expenses, contact our Raleigh law firm to discuss the cost of your divorce case by completing the contact form below or calling (919) 301-8843.

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