1. Organization. The more organized and detailed you are with your documentation, the better it is for anyone involved with the case. The Attorney or Paralegal may change what you have done, but it will be far less expensive for you than providing your documentation in a bag or box that the Attorney or Paralegal has to organize and sort through.
2. Be Responsible. Don’t call your Attorney every time you feel you have been slighted or wronged by your ex-spouse/child’s parent. Take a breath. Venting about your ex-spouse, opposing counsel or “the system” may make you feel better, but you won’t be feeling so good when you receive your bill for the 20 phone calls you made to do so. Try to make a list of any questions, comments, etc. that you want to discuss with your Attorney and schedule one call to address all of them.
3. Be Prepared. Make sure you are prepared for all meetings and telephone calls with your Attorney. Consider taking notes so that you don’t ask the same question two or three times. Your Attorney will bill you for their time, make the most efficient use of it that you can.
4. Be Realistic. Speak honestly to your Attorney and formulate realistic goals and expectations. You don’t want your Attorney spending time discovering what you could have already told them from the beginning. Be forthcoming from the outset and clear on what it is you would like to achieve.
5. Be Responsive. Provide requested information in a timely manner. If you provide information quickly and as completely as possible, less time will need to be spent gathering the information and the more work that can be completed on your case. Don’t make your Attorney hound you for information as it will only increase your bill.
6. Utilize Paralegals. The Paralegal’s time is billed at a lower rate than the Attorney and they know your case. Keep in mind that they can’t give legal advice, however, if they can’t answer a question for you, they can consult with the Attorney and get back to you, or have the Attorney return your call if needed.
7. Review your invoice. Keep a record of the time you spend with your Attorney in telephone call, meetings, etc. and then compare that time to your monthly invoice.
8. Be Respectful. Always try to be respectful to the other side. By acting with respect and reason you will be able to move your matter forward to resolution in a positive manner. This may allow you to reach a settlement and prevent the cost of ongoing litigation.
9. Inform Yourself. Take some time to do some reading about family law and the divorce/custody process so you are not going into anything blind. This will also better help you understand any options the Attorney may present to you. You can then make a more informed decision which is right for you and your family, and may ultimately reduce your legal fees.
10. Research. Make sure you choose an experienced family law Attorney.