How do I Save Money on my Divorce Case?
By Amanda Marsden, Calgary Family Lawyer
Once you’ve decided it is best to separate from your spouse or partner you also need to decide the best process to resolve all outstanding issues. Especially during COVID-19 and this time of financial uncertainty, you want to make sure to spend your resources wisely. How can you make the most of the funds you are spending on your divorce lawyer?
First, it is important to get accurate family law legal advice as early in the process as possible. All too often we hear from clients that have attended with people who hold themselves out as family law professionals but who are not qualified to practice law. Sometimes these are untrained “mediators” and paralegals who try to give legal advice on family law issues. However, only lawyers can give legal advice under the Legal Professions Act. Unfortunately, these types of services often do more harm than good, by giving incorrect legal advice on family law matters, resulting in wasted time and money.
Second, it is important to prepare for your first consultation with a family lawyer. Know the important dates in your case such as the date of marriage, the date of separation, the date that you started living with your spouse and the Children’s birthdates. Also, have as much information regarding your income and your spouse’s income as possible and bring your tax returns for the last three years if you can.
In addition, bring with you any documents that could help the family lawyer sort out what your assets and debts are. This includes mortgage statements, home valuations, other loan documents, bank account statements, investment account statements and business financial statements. If you or your spouse have already filed family law documents in court bring those too, including affidavits, applications, and court orders. If you have any written cohabitation agreements, prenuptial agreements or separation agreements you should bring those as well.
Moreover, write down all of the questions that you’ve been thinking of asking a divorce lawyer so that you remember to ask in your initial consultation. Having all of this information gathered and organized prior to your first consultation with a divorce lawyer will help make the meeting efficient and informative. It will also likely result in less follow-up emails and questions, which will lower the amount of legal fees.
Third, keep your documents well organized. When providing documents to your family lawyer, it is important to provide those documents in a fashion that is organized and easy to follow. If you provide all of your financial documents in an unorganized pile, it will take much more time for your family lawyer to organize and review those documents. Reviewing documents that are already organized is much less time intensive.
Fourth, think about what you can do on your own. There are things that many clients can do in a family law case that can result in less lawyer hours and therefore less money spent on legal fees. For example, in a retroactive child support case, if you are able to provide a detailed history of child support payments this will save your family lawyer from figuring this out. If you are able to provide your family lawyer with property assessments, corporate searches and land title documents it will save you legal fees as well. There may be many other ways that you can reduce your legal costs in your family law case and you should ask your family lawyer about ways that you can help out to save time and money.
If legal fees are a big concern for you during the pandemic, make sure that you bring this up during your initial consultation with a family lawyer. Depending on your circumstances, the family lawyer will likely have advice tailored to you regarding options to keep fees lower.
The Calgary family lawyers at Crossroads Law are aware of financial difficulties faced by Albertans during COVID-19. That is why we provide lower cost options for divorce and family cases including legal coaching arrangements for those representing themselves. Contact us now to set up your free consultation.