“KILL ALL THE LAWYERS!” That’s the theme of Season 2 of the popular TV show – “The Good Fight” – which aired this month. I’m sure the ratings will be good!
As a lawyer, I ask: Why is there seemingly such a “hate on” by the public for lawyers? I surmise that, one reason is, that lawyers are expensive. Especially in divorce matters, fees can run up into many thousands of dollars.
So, let’s pose the question: is it a given that your divorce will be expensive?
Consider what’s at stake – including the many years of building the relationship and all its complex components, including the children and their care, health and employment issues, properties amassed and debts incurred. It’s logical that the work necessary to help you extricate from this complex structure and build with you a new and satisfactory (to you) legal structure going forward, will also be complex, and therefore not ‘cheap.’
So, you ask, is there any way to keep the costs down in Family Law matters? The answer, dear Readers, is a resounding YES! The following are some ways you can keep your costs down in your divorce:
- Organize your financial papers before you see your lawyer. Chronologies are good. Bringing a shoebox full of papers to your lawyer is not cost effective!
- See a therapist while you’re going through the separation and divorce process. As you all know, there are complex emotions happening when one decides to separate. Seeing a therapist is cost efficient as it will lower the time you will need to spend on this important part, in your lawyer’s office.
- Consider using Mediation. This is a process where a third party sits down with both spouses and helps them resolve the legal and financial issues arising from their separation. The mediator usually charges half her hourly rate to each party: this can result in large cost saving to the parties. (Note: Mediation is not appropriate in all situations.)
- Hire an experienced family law lawyer to be your mediator. When I am retained as the mediator for the parties, I provide them with a great deal of legal information, stopping just short of legal advice [as not allowed by the Law Society]. Much of my process as a mediator for both parties is the same as when I’m acting as a lawyer for one party. This includes working with the parties to gather the necessary financial information, and informing them of the law.
- Your mediator should also be an experienced ADR professional i.e. have extensive training and experience in Alternative Dispute Resolution. This specialized expertise will enable your mediator, in addition to considering the law, to consider also each party’s respective needs and interests, which may be outside of the law. This will help the parties negotiate a settlement satisfactory to both.
- With your mediator, you and your spouse can work out a great deal of the issues, so that less time needs to be spent by each to obtain “ILA” (independent legal advice) from your respective lawyers, during or at the end of the process.
These are my tips for today, dear Readers, to keep your costs down in a divorce. I have many more suggestions, to be explored in future articles. For related and useful articles, see my blog posts at www.annefreed.com/blog.
Until next time!
Anne Freed holds a BA (Honours Sociology), JD (Juris Doctor, Law Degree), Master of Laws Degree (LL.M.) in Alternative Dispute Resolution, Advanced Training in Mediation, Arbitration and Collaborative Practice, Certification in Collaborative Practice
© Anne E. Freed, March, 2018