Billable Hours: Cutting Divorce Costs

Along with the emotional impact and family upheaval that divorce brings comes another potentially devastating aspect of ending a marriage – money matters.

The financial burden of a divorce can be enormous, and it’s easy to tally up high divorce attorney’s fees in what’s referred to as billable hours if the stress and emotion of the event clouds your view. People seeking to make their divorce affordable certainly have the cards stacked against them. So what are some steps to take to ease the expense? Getting good advice from trusted family law attorney is key. Residents of Florida, Texas and Massachusetts can find a directory of family law attorneys at this link on our website Divorce Attorney Home.com.

Family law attorney Mark Baer told the Los Angeles Times that emotions brought on by a divorce – the second most traumatic life event after a loved one’s death, he said, very often cause the spouses to make irrational decisions. “Couples let their emotions take control and they spend it all on attorneys,” Baer said. “They’re now worse off financially than if they’d never been married — just because they refused to act like mature adults.” Baer said the desire for vengeance is a blueprint for ruin. “The cost of litigating the heck out of a case doesn’t benefit either person. It destroys the family financially, and that doesn’t even consider the emotional toll,” Baer told the Times. “By the time you pay the legal fees, you’re going to spend more than the amount you were fighting over.”

Although your divorce attorney or family law advocate is working for you, you can lessen their legal fees by doing some of the legwork yourself, therefore saving costs in the attorney’s billable hours. Your divorce attorney has to charge you for their time, so the more you can do on your own, the lower the cost will be in the end. It’s crucial to be organized. It’s also crucial – before you sign a contract to work with a divorce attorney – to get a clear definition of what billable hours means to them. Are they charging you for that “quick call” to ask a question? A reputable divorce attorney will give you estimates of what each phase of your divorce will cost, and will often even suggest ways to keep costs in check. It’s good business for them to do so.

Property, assets and income are divided between the spouses in a divorce, so in order to ensure things are split evenly, it’s crucial to have a comprehensive list of everything – what you own and what you owe and this information should be shared with your family law attorney.

You can save thousands of dollars in billable hours by compiling this data yourself and sharing with your family law attorney, instead of relying on your divorce attorney to order subpoenas and build a mountain of paperwork to obtain this information. Tax records, bank statements, credit card statements, loan information, the value of your retirement plan or 401(k), and appraisals of your house and property are details you can get without a divorce attorney’s help (and expense). Most divorces are going to result in something close to a 50-50 split  of assets, so agreements and compromises that can be reached beforehand can save time, and more importantly, money. This is where divorce mediation comes in. Think of it this way: Mediation lessens litigation.

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