One of the most common concerns of family law clients is how they can keep their legal fees manageable. Here are some simple ways that clients can work with their lawyers to reduce fees:
Review your lawyer’s requests carefully
One of the most common ways that clients incur fees is in the process of disclosure. This is when your lawyer will ask you for certain documents, including tax documents, pay stubs and often bank statements. Your lawyer will usually request accounts for specific dates and specific accounts. If you send back statements that were not requested or do not send ones that were requested, this will require your lawyer to follow-up with you on the statements they had asked for or to review documents which may not be relevant to your matter.
One of the easiest ways to manage your fees throughout the disclosure process is to carefully review what documents your lawyer is requesting and ensure that you provide them. If you have questions or unclear on what is needed, ask. If you are unsure of how to get a copy of a document, ask. Your lawyer can likely assist.
Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution options
Family lawyers will often recommend alternative dispute resolution options such as mediation, arbitration or even collaborative family law where appropriate.
Amongst other benefits, these options may be less costly than litigation. Clients often come with preconceived notions of these alternative options and their efficacy and may reject them for this reason. If your lawyer suggests to you an alternative dispute resolution option, putting aside any pre-conceived notions and genuinely considering their suggestion and the reasons for it could result in reduced fees down the line.
Seek support if necessary
Separation and divorce is invariably stressful. Sometimes your emotional state can make it challenging to make long-term decisions. It is important to have support and people you feel comfortable confiding in, in addition to your lawyer. If you feel you would benefit from support from a therapist, your lawyer may have suggestions for professionals working in this area. For some, this can help focus your conversations with your lawyer and to reduce fees in the process.
This may be the most obvious tip but is the most important. Like so many other aspects of working with a lawyer on a family law matter, open and direct communication on fees is crucial. If you are looking for ways to manage your fees in a family law matter, ask your lawyer how you might do this. They can offer you options tailored to your specific situation. There is no need to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about having this conversation with your lawyer, they have likely had many such conversations throughout their career and should be happy to work with you on this.
The family lawyers at Mills & Mills LLP are committed to working openly and proactively with our clients to manage fees. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions regarding your family law matter. Reach out online or at 416-863-0125.