What if the biggest cost in your family law matter was not your lawyer? What if the biggest cost was YOU?
Not possible? Think again.
The Collins Dictionary defines a ‘false economy’ as ‘an attempt to save money which actually leads to greater expense’.
Family Law proceedings can be a costly exercise. Many people think that they can cut costs, and save themselves some money, by representing themselves or delaying hiring a lawyer. We see it all the time. But this is a mistake. Research has shown that a person’s legal costs are likely to be higher when they delay or avoid hiring a lawyer. While it may seem counter intuitive, seeking out legal advice early on in your case is likely to save you money and increase your chances of getting a favourable outcome.
Research commissioned by the Law Society of England and Wales has found a clear link between early advice and the early resolution of cases. It has found that a person who receives legal advice in first three months of their case is more likely to resolve their case within the same period. There are several reasons that may explain why this link exists.
First, a person who receives legal advice has a stronger understanding of their rights and is therefore able to better advocate for themselves.
Second, a person who has a legal representative will be a more effective negotiator. This is because family lawyers are highly skilled in handling these kinds of cases and can negotiate more effectively than their clients can. Even where clients are skilled negotiators in their own right their ability to negotiate effectively is often clouded by their emotional investment in their matter.
Third, early legal advice can stop minor problems escalating into large problems, which require costly and complicated solutions.
What this research shows is that it is possible to keep legal costs down without forsaking high quality legal advice and representation. The key to reducing your legal costs is to seek legal advice early in your case.
While getting legal advice early is one strategy you can use to reduce your legal costs, there are other steps you can take to save money. Below is a list of strategies you can use to limit unnecessary legal fees:
- Make a list of questions you want answered before you attend your appointments. Avoid calling your lawyer later with questions that you forgot to ask during your appointment by writing them down beforehand. Many people find it helpful to keep a notebook handy, so they can write down any questions or thoughts they have about their case whenever they pop into their head.
- Let your lawyer do their job. While you may think you are saving money by preparing legal paperwork yourself, the costs will soon blow out when you make a mistake that your lawyer must fix.
- Be prepared to negotiate. If it is at all possible, you should try to reach an agreement with your ex-partner. This does not mean you have to give up your case. Rather, it means knowing when to compromise and when not to compromise (a lawyer can help you with this). In most cases, both parties will have to make concessions, so you are not alone in this. Remember: Legal fees increase the longer a case drags on, so resolving it early will cut down those fees.
- Make full disclosure of all your financial interests. Failing to disclose an interest may result in an adverse decision being made against you. Hiding your interests is never a good idea; There is always a good chance you will get caught out.
- Respond to your lawyers’ requests as soon as possible. The less time your lawyer spends chasing you for information, the less you will pay in legal fees.
If you haven’t sought legal advice on your family law matter yet and would like to speak with an experienced family law expert please contact our office, either online or toll free 1300 449 500, and we’ll arrange a time for you to speak with one of our experts.