If you’re considering divorce, there will be thoughts racing through your head across a whole range of topics - the impact on the children, who’ll keep the family home, how you’ll divide assets, and more. One other factor you might be thinking about is how to make sure the legal fees associated with divorce don’t spiral out of control.
We’ve put together a few suggestions for you to keep in mind which can help to keep your legal fees in check.
Know how divorce lawyers bill
Generally, divorce lawyers in Calgary will bill you on an hourly basis. In your initial appointment, ask for a guideline about what the fees could be for your divorce. If your lawyer is going to bill by the hour keep this in mind as any call or ‘quick question’ could start the clock running for your fees.
Many of the recommendations on this list come back to time: if your lawyer is billing by the hour, being prepared and using their time wisely will help you keep your fees in check.
In your initial consultation with your divorce lawyer you will want to make sure you’re clear on any extra costs you might expect to incur during the divorce process so there are no surprises at the end.
Hiring a cheap vs experienced divorce lawyer
If you’re deciding between two or more lawyers, remember that a lower hourly rate doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re a more affordable lawyer. A more experienced lawyer can be more efficient, have more experience and provide you with more insightful legal advice based on their knowledge. Having a lawyer with experience on your side can also improve the outcome of your divorce process.
Find a lawyer you can really communicate with
Communication is key. Your initial appointment will help you decide if your lawyer is a good match for you. You’ll be dealing with them in a challenging period of your life, so you want to make sure that you feel like you have a good rapport and you find the best divorce lawyer for you.
You should look for a lawyer with whom you can be totally honest, one who understands your culture and your family background, and if English is your second language, you may want to find a lawyer who can communicate with you in your first language if you’re concerned that there may be a language barrier.
Did you know: Richmond Tymchuk Family Law has one of the few French-speaking divorce lawyers in Calgary?
Understand your legal paperwork
Once you’ve decided on the lawyer you’ll be working with, read everything they send you. This might include documentation around the divorce, agreements, contracts and invoices. These documents might use legal terminology you’re not familiar with, so if there’s anything you’re not sure about, please ask.
Reading all your paperwork as you receive it will help you be more prepared for your meetings with your lawyer. Having your questions ready ahead of time can help you to have more efficient meetings and to better manage the time you have with your lawyer.
Keep yourself organized
Try to be organized and prepared. You might want to make a file of documents so you can keep all the relevant paperwork together. This will make attending appointments easier, and help your lawyer get the best outcome for you.
Meeting with a lawyer for the first time? Here’s what you might need to take with you to your first divorce lawyer appointment.
Opt for an email
If you have any questions for your lawyer, outline them in an email. Email is a great way of communicating for a few reasons:
Email gives you a written record that you both can look back on
Your lawyer’s assistant may be able to answer your non substantive legal questions (this may get you an answer faster and at a lower billable rate)
Your lawyer can answer you at a time when they are focused on your case and can include all relevant information (which can’t always happen if you give them a call and they’re not at their desk)
- Taking the time to write out your questions can help you think them through and refine them
Instead of sending an email every time you have a question, keep an open draft and add your questions to it to send to your lawyer before your meeting. Keeping these questions together can sometimes help to root out the theme or root of a bigger issue.
Ask your lawyer for a referral
Your lawyer is there to help you with the law around getting divorced. During the process you’ll have to make challenging decisions about finances, parenting and more. Your lawyer can provide some guidance on these issues but you will often be better suited seeing advice from a professional in the right field.
You can ask your divorce lawyer for a referral to a financial advisor, a counsellor/psychologist, a lawyer in a different field (such as real estate if you’re also selling/buying a home), and other trusted professionals that they work with on a regular basis. Keeping your lawyer focused on what they do best and turning to other experts for support where you need it will allow you to get the best support across the board.
Do your research
Looking for more information on the divorce process in Alberta? Reading some articles and understanding the process can help you be more informed as you go into the process. We have lots of articles and resources that you can read such as:
Website articles and Google searches do not replace solid counsel from a family law lawyer who is familiar with your specific matter. Please contact us to set up a time to discuss questions about your divorce and family law matters.