Tips For Saving Money During Your Litigation
During an initial conference, I always say to people, “The more you do, the less I do, the less you pay.”
The following are ways to achieve that money-saving. Other than reading the material we provide to you and gathering required documents, you do not have to do any of these things. We are happy to do as much for you as we can but we are trying to reduce your fees, if possible.
What You Can Do:
- Read the information I provide and the letters I send to you thoroughly, and take some time to think about the content. That may seem to be a straightforward request but many people read a document once and if they find it the least intimidating they call and ask a question. If you read the document again you may find your answer; if not, please call us at 321-728-4955.
- Gather the documents that we have requested and provide us with three copies. That keeps us from charging you to make copies for the opposing party and the court.
- Organize the documents you provide into the categories on the mandatory disclosure list. For credit card bills, bank statements and brokerage account statements, flag the statement that includes the date the petition for dissolution was filed. If it has yet to be filed, flag your most recent statement. Make a list of what you are providing and email it to us, updating it from time to time as more documentation is submitted. For instance, bank records, acct# _____ for May to Dec.
- Keep a copy of everything for yourself and keep it in order so that it is easy for you to reference; keeping things in chronological order by category helps immensely.
- Organize your thoughts prior to contacting us. The only thing we have to sell is our advice and our time. We thus have to charge for communication. There are days when I am on the phone all day with clients who have not prepared themselves to effectively communicate with me.
- Email is a wonderful way to communicate with us. Not only does it provide a record, it also allows us to respond at any time of the day or night. Playing phone tag can be an enormous waste of time and money.
- Summarize events or phone calls you believe to be relevant for us in writing. People will call us right after an altercation with their spouse and tell us all the details but not in a way that we can use it. Please try and be organized; if you provide a summary I may be able to use almost exactly what you tell me in a letter to the other side and decrease the time drafting that letter requires.
- Many cases that involve time-sharing with children turn on the communication between the parents. Hopefully most of that communication is by email. We then end up with hundreds of emails to go through to prepare the case for trial. If you print the emails, put them in chronological order and do a table of contents that provides a very brief summary of the content.
- Pull the blue book information on automobiles; motorcycles have a similar service.
- Pull the property appraiser’s valuation of your home and Zillow as well.
- Inventory the contents of your home and place a value on all your personal property at the amount you believe you could obtain if you sold it. You would keep sets together, for instance the dining room set. If you and your spouse can divide your tangible personal property up on your own this can really save money. I have spent hours arguing over items that are not worth the amount that the parties are spending to argue over it. But don’t give it all away; replacing things can add up to a lot of money.
- If you have insurance available through your employer obtain written documentation as to the cost of health insurance for the whole family, for you only and for you and children only.
- Save all receipts as much as possible, making copies of the receipts that will fade quickly. Organize those receipts and average the expenses for each item on the financial affidavit. If you do not have them, do not worry about it; just begin saving them from now on.
- Obtain a copy of your company plan for 401(k), profit sharing, pensions etc. The employer’s personnel department should be able to provide this information.
- If you will be moving, please obtain estimated expenses for where you plan to live. If you do not yet know with certainty, please consider the area where it is probable you would live.
- Order your credit report. They are free from annualcreditreport.com. It will help us make sure that there are no debts not included.