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Divorce Legal Fees

A divorce can be costly if you hire a lawyer. And if it turns into a court battle, legal fees can get very expensive, very quickly.

Cutting Costs

The biggest step in reducing legal fees is to do as much of the work as you can. Gather as much financial information as you can before you meet with an attorney. His or her hourly rate will be very expensive. You're paying that fee for legal expertise; you don't want to pay a lawyer to search through your finances. If you can, negotiate a fixed fee for your attorney. Otherwise, you can reduce fees by remaining actively involved in your case and following your lawyer's instructions carefully.

Try To Settle Small Issues with your spouse without the help of a lawyer. Lots of tiny spats can lead to one gigantic legal bill. Save your money for the bigger battles that may take some greater legal muscle.

Stick to the tasks at hand with your lawyer. As you work with a lawyer, you'll probably build trust with that person and it might be tempting to "unload" some of your feelings on him or her. You really need to find a friend you can confide in – someone that isn't charging you by the hour.

Don't try to use a divorce settlement to punish an ex. It will end up causing more stress, more pain and much more money in legal fees. Remain diligent to make sure the settlement is fair to you, but if you insist on "sticking it to your spouse" your lawyers will end up sticking it to both of you.

Find a way to communicate with your spouse. There is a lot of emotional stress involved with a divorce. There is most likely some anger involved as well. But if you each use lawyers to relay all communications between you, the fees will add up quickly. If you need to, use alternative ways to communicate such as e-mail or faxing. It takes some of the confrontational potential out of communicating by phone or in person.

Before a lawyer represents you, you will need to sign a written fee agreement. This is a legal document explaining the fees that your lawyer will charge. Make sure you understand this document and feel free to ask questions if you don't.