Are there ways to keep the cost of my case down?
There are ways to contain that cost of a divorce, including the following:
- Gather as much information as you can yourself and provide that to your attorney. This information includes without limitation recent tax returns, bank statements, appraisals (if any), real estate closing packages for property still owned, estate planning documents, SEV statements for real estate, car titles, deeds, W-2’s, credit card statements, retirement account statements, and the like.
- Consider the factors relating to custody, support, and property division when negotiating these issues and be realistic when you make or consider a settlement offer.
- Do not expect your attorney to be your therapist. If anger, grief, anxiety, or other emotion is interfering with your ability to participate in a custody action or divorce proceeding, consider getting some therapy where those issues can be addressed.
- Make your interaction with your attorney or members of the “team” meaningful and productive by setting up an agenda and staying on topic. Make a list of questions you have and send that to the attorney or team member prior to the meeting.
- Respond to requests for information timely, whether they are requests from an opposing party or attorney--or a request from your own attorney.
- Don’t “act out” by saying and doing things that will complicate your case or reflect poorly on you. In today’s world where “evidence” includes emails, texts, and pictures, it is likely that a judge will discover, see, or hear what you did.
- Don’t believe everything you hear. Some information is reliable and irrebuttable. Other times, what may be presented as “information” is incorrect, only partially true, and/or outright gossip. Try not to react to anything you hear without consulting your attorney first.
- Don’t rely too much on what happened in someone else’s case. First of all, their case is not your case. Second, most of the time cases are resolved with a consent agreement. As a result, many people who are unhappy with the outcome in their cases are actually people who agreed to that outcome.
- Don’t publicly disparage your spouse or the other parent. This will get back to him/her and just create resentment and possible retaliation. It will not be appreciated by the evaluators in your case or the court.
- Don’t file for a PPO, call the police, or contact CPS without reason. If a court believes that you have filed a false report or are using the system for a tactical advantage, there could be major fall-out for you—especially if your call to the police did not result in a conviction, or CPS does not substantiate your complaint, or the court denies the petition for a PPO or later sets it aside.
- That said, don’t hesitate to call the police or CPS if you have a valid reason to do so. Go to Safe House if you need shelter or counseling. Get a PPO if you need one. If there is some time to think this through, it would be advantageous for you to talk to your attorney or therapist before taking action. Further, few people will fault you for leaving an uncomfortable or dangerous situation.