How To Save On Legal Fees During Divorce? Divorce Attorneys In New York Answer
If you are thinking about leaving your spouse, one of the questions that most likely comes to mind is: how much will a divorce lawyers in New York cost? Most people who begin the divorce process want to keep counsel fees low and to resolve everything without incurring a debt to attorneys. I am a divorce attorney, and here are some strategies I have learned over the years that will help to keep your fees low and minimize costs.
Divorce attorneys in New York, by law, bill hourly. Because of this, total counsel fees can mount quickly, and will depend on multiple factors: the behavior of the parties, the complexity of the case itself, the skill of the attorneys, and whether or not parties follow the advice of lawyers and the court.
If both parties are reasonable, and come to a peaceful agreement quickly, the fees will be minimal because there will be no need to fight in court or to have negotiations back and forth. The attorneys can quickly draft the divorce documents and agreements, bringing the process to a close in a matter of months (and sometimes weeks or even days!) rather than years.
If both spouses are difficult and refuse to compromise, the case will generate large fees for both parties. If the parties cannot agree, the attorneys are required to seek “judicial intervention” – which means the input of the courts and judges – by drafting and filing formal written requests called motions. The costs to prepare a motion, because of the hours of time involved drafting the papers and reviewing them with the client, as well as filing fees and expenses, can reach thousands of dollars. If the parties attend several court dates and still cannot agree, then the divorce lawyers in New York are required to prepare for trial- which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It is important to note that you can only control some aspects of the final cost of attorney fees. If one person is agreeable, and is willing to settle on reasonable terms, and the other party isn’t, the agreeable spouse will still be forced to incur counsel fees to litigate the issues. If one spouse is behaving in a frivolous manner or purposely being difficult or delaying, the court will sometimes order that spouse to pay the other spouse’s fees, but it is not a guarantee. If both spouses have valid points but the legal issues are complex and cannot easily be solved by agreement, then a hearing may be necessary for the Court to decide who wins. Because of all of these factors, regardless of your behavior divorce attorneys in New York may need to prepare motions and arguments, perform legal research and writing, and prepare and conduct a trial.
The best approach is to speak to your spouse honestly and openly. Explain to them that you want to have a peaceful resolution, and to incur the lowest fees possible. If their first reaction is to threaten to fight you, you may need to prepare yourself for a long and expensive battle.
Another factor to consider in estimating the likely fees associated with a case, is the case’s difficulty. An example of a simple case in a divorce is one in which the parties have no assets, no children, and a relatively short marriage. These cases, which are often deemed “uncontested” because there are no issues to fight over, are generally low-cost divorces. Even with the simplest cases, however, if one party refuses to cooperate and wants to fight, fees will mount because of the behavior of the belligerent spouse.
If you have a complicated case, with unique facts that require legal research, or have a narcissistic spouse who will argue every little detail (minutiae of your children’s lives, every transaction related to your assets, and other such terms of the divorce) then you can expect to see a large monthly bill from your divorce attorneys.
Additionally, it is in your best interest to follow the directions of your attorney or the court. If you delay, or purposely fail to follow an order of the court, then your spouse’s attorney will most likely seek help from a judge, which means additional feels to fight over the enforcement of issues that have already been decided. Your attorney can often anticipate these types of issues and can advise you on the best steps to take.
Unfortunately, sometimes parties hire divorce lawyers in New York who do not specialize in matrimonial law, which will likely cause more fees to be incurred because the unqualified attorney will not know the appropriate steps to take or advice to give. An experienced divorce attorney will be able to explain the probable outcome of your case based on matrimonial law and can better analyze and guide you through litigation. If the litigation is handled properly from the beginning of the case, this will help to keep costs low.
If an attorney who does not specialize in divorce makes errors in your case, your subsequent attorney will need to charge more fees to try to correct the error, and, many times, the damage will be hard to reverse. It is important to search for a specialized attorney who can provide a realistic plan and give advice on the likely outcome of your matter. Many times, if a belligerent person is told that their behavior will result in an unfavorable outcome to them, and they will incur fees, they will be more willing to settle the matter.
If you want to speak to one of our divorce attorneys in New York about counsel fees or your matter, please call us at 212-401-1977 for a free consultation.