Family law proceedings can become very stressful. The last thing you should be worrying about is exorbitant legal fees. However, your family law fees do not necessarily have to become a burden. We have provided our top tips on ways in which you can keep your legal fees reasonable.
Although family law proceedings can be costly, ensuring you get proper legal advice immediately is commercially beneficial and can help reduce stress by providing you with an understanding of your rights and what is involved in family law proceedings.
In our experience, having a family lawyer represent you in family proceedings as early as possible can help you achieve a more favourable property settlement and reduce your stress in knowing what to expect.
Here are our top tips to help navigate you and save money on your family law fees
- Get legal advice early
Obtaining advice early is important so that you, and your lawyer, can come up with a plan or strategy. At the end of each meeting with your lawyer, ask about the next steps so that you can have the reassurance of knowing what will happen next.
- Make a list of questions you want answered before every appointment
Having a list of questions and concerns regarding your matter will result in you obtaining the information that you want at your appointment time. It will also help eliminate the need for you to call your lawyer after your appointment to ask the questions you had forgotten to ask.
- Take notes of discussions with your lawyer
If you like, take notes during your meetings and telephone calls with your lawyer, or bring a support person. This will help you recall what was discussed between you, eliminating the need to ask your lawyer the same question twice. This reduces the time spent on going over advice already provided to you by your lawyer and, in turn, will help reduce your legal fees. Remember everything you say to your lawyer is confidential, so your support person should be someone you trust to also observe that principle.
- Prepare your financial documents
In family law matters there is a process called discovery.
You will be required to provide documents to your lawyer such as bank statements, including savings accounts, mortgage statements, tax returns, recent payslips, and superannuation statements. We will send a request to your former partner (or their legal representative) to provide their documents to us. This will give both parties a clear picture of the total value of financial assets of the relationship and, resultantly, give your lawyer the information they need to provide you the most accurate family law advice about your entitlement. These documents will be essential to achieve a settlement.
- Limit your questions to legal issues only
We empathise that family law proceedings can be stressful and emotional. Family lawyers understand your stress more than anyone. Your family lawyer will support you through this process, however, they are only qualified to give legal advice. Try to focus on the legal issues only. This will help keep your meeting shorter and manage your legal fees. If you need emotional support, we recommend you engage with therapeutic support in this difficult time. You may be eligible for free counselling through Medicare.
- Try to remain focused on a resolution when undertaking settlement negotiations
You know your former partner the best. When it comes to family law proceedings, both parties will need to make concessions to achieve an end to the process. It is cost effective for parties to resolve matters prior to trial. This may mean that both parties will need to make concessions. If the parties continue to refuse to negotiate, a Judge may be required to decide the outcome, meaning a significant financial cost to both parties.
- Provide your lawyer with any information they request
Your lawyer will most likely request written material to prepare Court documents (such as information for an affidavit). Providing your lawyer with written material will result in greater efficiency in preparing any legal documentation and, as a result, reduce your legal fees. Remember, telling your lawyer everything is important even if you do not want it to be disclosed to the other party. There remains client/solicitor privilege, so your lawyer will not share any information with anyone without your consent.
- Organise all documents before sending to your lawyer
Before providing your lawyer with any requested documents or information, if possible, ensure you organise these documents in chronological order and make a list reflecting all the documentation provided. If possible, providing an electronic version of the list with the documents will save time and help reduce your legal fees.
- Finally, respond to your lawyer’s requests in a timely manner
Lawyers have deadlines they must meet, including responding to the other side’s requests and meeting their obligations to the Court. You also do not want to give the other side an excuse to claim for legal costs they have incurred because of your delays, so always ensure you respond to your lawyer’s requests promptly.
As you can see, there are numerous ways you can help keep your legal fees as low as possible. Our family lawyers will be happy to discuss and advise you on what you can do to help achieve this throughout your matter.
Although legal fees are costly, we cannot stress the value of obtaining legal representation from an experienced family lawyer to mitigate your legal spend and achieve a property settlement that is fair and equitable to you.