A common question prospective clients have is what is their divorce or family law case going to cost. The answer will differ for every client, and it is impossible to tell from the outset, as much will depend on the actions of the parties themselves. Attorney fees in a family law matter can be substantial, although you can minimize the costs by following this advice from Portland divorce attorney Ronald Allen Johnston.
- Do what your attorney tells you to do promptly. Failing to provide information in a timely fashion, making our office call and remind you repeatedly to do tasks in your case (provide discovery, prepare a support declaration form, etc.), will rapidly drive up costs.
- Respond punctually to calls and requests. If I have your file open on my desktop and I make a call to you to talk to you, failure to return the call may result in me putting your file away, only to have to retrieve and review it again later. This costs time and money.
- Listen carefully and take notes. A conference with an attorney for two hours will cost in excess of $600. To get your full measure of value from this consultation, take the time to review your detailed notes about our state divorce laws and actions your must take. Nothing drives up costs faster than having to re-explain lengthy conferences. Studies show that memory fades easily, and that most people forget half of what was said within three days.
- Flesh out your notes. After your consultation, take a moment to re-write your notes and fill them out in detail. By taking and reviewing your detailed notes, you will remember better what was said, remembering that a divorce in Oregon may well take several months to process.
- Be organized. Keep all your case information and documents punched into a file. Have your file in front of you when talking to your attorney.
- Be decisive. When you make a decision, stick to it. Do not change your mind and instructions to your attorney, unless something new occurs that makes it prudent to reevaluate your decision. Waffling on issues is a sure fire way to increase costs.
- Minimize unnecessary attorney-client time. Use your attorney for legal advice and legal tasks, and not for emotional soothing or hand holding. The attorney’s training is in law, not psychology. If your attorney refers you to a coach or therapist, listen to that advice.
- Take care of yourself. Studies show that a divorce, child custody or other family law matter is one of the most stressful events one will undergo in his or her lifetime. Do common sense things to help manage your stress, so that you as the client can most effectively work with your attorney. Exercise, watch your diet and maintain a support network.
- Be prepared for important dates. Recognize that there will be bursts of activity in your case when it is time to appear before divorce court, and be emotionally prepared to make decisions when it is time to make them. Understand that there will also be periods of inactivity, and do not call your attorney for unnecessary status reports.
- Do not overuse e-mail. Any e-mail received from a client must be treated with the same dignity and care as a written postal letter. The e-mail must be read, saved and responded to. There is a minimum charge of .1 to .2 hour to receive and process any e-mail.
Following these tips will help you significantly reduce your attorney fees and expenses. If you are ready to set up a pre-divorce consultation or confidential second opinion regarding your ongoing family law case, please contact our Portland divorce lawyer Ronald Johnston today.