Tips for Reducing your Legal Fees
Unfortunately, like with any legal issues, legal costs can escalate within family law matters, especially when one party refuses to cooperate and is generally difficult during negotiations. Unless your matter is under a fixed fee scheme which, at Expatriate Law is only offered for uncontested divorce proceedings and not financial or children matters, then time spent on your matter is billed in 6-minute units. It is easy for costs to amount quickly but here, Sophie Capo-Bianco provides some advice on how to minimise your legal costs.
1. Remain child-focused
First and foremost if you keep your children’s best interests at heart then it should help you to and try a reach an early resolution with respect to children arrangements and financial matters. Family law can have a devastating impact on children if they are submerged and surrounded with lengthy ongoing acrimonious legal proceedings.
2. Be concise
Rather than sending your solicitor numerous emails or even an extremely lengthy one which will take time for your solicitor to read, digest and respond to, try and send a short concise email with bullet points setting out what are your objectives and how you wish to go about achieving them.
3. Be reasonable and rational
It is very easy for parties to become embroiled with protracted correspondence about something quite trivial in the long term and you would be amazed how quickly this can ramp up legal costs. Focus on what is really important to you and try and let the small issues go. It is also worth questioning whether it is really worth fighting over a particular matter or whether one can compromise on this point with the hope that the other party will compromise on something that you deem more important.
4. Be honest and compliant
If you negotiate with goodwill and you comply with the process then it should progress in a timely manner, provided the other party behaves with the same decorum. If you are negotiating financial matters then you should provide honest and frank disclosure in order to reach a swift financial settlement.
5. Be decisive
If it is becoming clear that your spouse, civil partner or ex partner is becoming increasingly difficult during the course of negotiations then take charge by speaking to your solicitor to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of issuing court proceedings so a timetable is set by the court and orders are made which the other party must comply with.
6. Have a support network
Family law matters can bring about the most challenging and difficult time to anyone’s life so it is extremely important that you have a supportive network of family and friends around you. While your solicitor will provide you with all the legal advice you need, your friends, family, therapists and other support groups will help to guide you through the emotional side of the process. Although your solicitor will always be supportive and approachable please do remember they are not your therapist and it would be much more appropriate and cost effective to seek help with dealing with the emotional side of the proceedings with a therapeutic professional.
7. Understand the billing process
Once you have received your first bill which will clearly set out how each fee earner has billed their time, please note what is deemed as billable and what is not. On the whole, every email written and received together with every telephone call and any piece of substantial drafting is all deemed billable.
Your solicitor will provide you with regular cost estimates so you can keep an eye on your legal fees and budget accordingly. Remember: the less you spend on legal fees, the more you will have to spend on yours and your children’s future.