How to lower your legal fees

Legal fees—affordable divorce

Divorce results in short-term financial stress.

Many people enter into divorce hoping to get as much for themselves as possible.  If they are angry, they may want to financially destroy the other party. Contentious and aggressive attorneys who buy into that kind of thinking help families self destruct.

I take a different approach.  My experience in business and real estate law gives me insight into the long-term financial interests of couples who own businesses, have significant investments and pensions, have co-mingled assets, own real estate holdings, and want to provide for the education and welfare of their children.  My job is to protect as much of the family assets as possible so that all members of the family have the resources they need to go forward with their lives.

10 Tips for lowering your legal fees

  1. Family Law lawyers in Lane County charge between $200 – $400 an hour. My hourly rate is $250, and $350 during trial. Never hire an attorney based on an hourly fee—-hire for experience and wisdom.  My total fees for processing a divorce are often substantially less than other attorneys because I have litigated hundreds of cases in Lane County Courts and can anticipate how judges react.  Some attorneys charge clients for extensive research and construction of complicated arguments that judges will not endorse, and are unsupported by the law.
  2. If you cannot afford a highly experienced attorney, ask for a referral to a younger lawyer who has won the respect of judges and other attorneys.
  3. Organize your financial records and keep copies in a secure location. Determine the value of all real property. The faster you can provide us with a full and accurate financial picture, the quicker we can propose settlements to resolve your case.
  4. Utilize a pre-nuptial or post-marital agreement to keep certain assets or debts separate to avoid later dispute.
  5. Resist your spouse’s attempts to intimidate you or draw you into agreements or conflict.  Hire a competent attorney and let your lawyer negotiate on your behalf.
  6. Before signing a Fee Agreement, be sure you have a plan for keeping your legal bills current.  You may need to borrow funds, or liquidate an asset. Talk to us about customized payment plans, utilizing a co-signer, use of credit cards and liens.  Failure to keep your account current can result in withdrawal, which leaves you vulnerable.  Late payments incur fees, and unpaid accounts incur collection fees.  We know that some clients will not have access to funds until a judgment is entered. We make every attempt to accommodate our clients financially.
  7. Communicate effectively.  E-mail is a one-sided conversation that lapses into a place to vent.  We charge for reading and responding to e-mail communications. We do not charge for making appointments, forwarding documents for approval or other routine communications.
  8. Know what outcomes you want, and what resources you are going to need including more training, adequate transportation, health insurance, etc. People who go through the divorce process resisting the divorce will simply draw out the process, which is costly.
  9. Be patient.  A divorce is a process that involves several parties, including the courts. Repeated calls to our office to check on the status takes time and drives up costs.
  10. Be willing to compromise.  Conflict always comes at a cost.