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Illinois Divorce Lawyer Blog: Top Ways to Spend too much on your Divorce

For the decades that I have been practicing Family Law/Divorce/Child Custody, I have always endeavored to deliver good value for the money spent on legal fees. Aside from keeping my hourly rates at a moderate level so that they are affordable for all clients, I also have some pride in the fact that my Firm really works to manage the cases aggressively and at the same time, cost effectively.  With this in mind, I thought I’d post some suggestions on how clients can help keep legal costs down in a contentious divorce:

Here are 7 ways to save on divorce costs:
1.  Try to maintain some measure of BIFF (Brief, Informational, Firm and Friendly) communication with your spouse over children’s issues. Use Our Family Wizard or similar platform. When all communications go through lawyers, the costs go up.

Brief – Keep it brief. Keep it short, typically a paragraph at most. This is even when the comment you’re responding to goes on and on for many paragraphs or pages. This leaves much less for the other person to react to and is often sufficient to get your main point across. Long explanations, defensiveness and arguments perpetuate more angry responses.

Informative – Focus on straight information. Stick to the point. Give straight information, rather than emotions, opinions, defenses or arguments. You don’t need to defend yourself when another person is being hostile. It’s not about you. It’s about their inability to manage their emotions and responses. Just stay focused on providing relevant information.

Friendly –  Include a friendly greeting; have empathy for their concerns; close with a positive statement. This may seem hard to do when you’re being attacked in writing or verbally. But this avoids feeding the hostilities and may even calm an upset person. Just a friendly greeting and closing; nothing too involved. This helps keep the hostilities from escalating. It also shows that you have good self-restraint.

Firm – This means that you end the conversation rather than feeding the hostilities. It doesn’t mean harsh. Just avoid anything that opens the door to receiving more hostile comments in return. Say something that calmly ends the conversation. Sometimes, you will need a response from the other person, so just ask a question seeking a Yes or No answer by such-and-such time and/or date.  End the conversation; close the door to further argument; or give 2 choices and a deadline for the requested response.

2.  Educate yourself about the divorce process by asking your lawyer good questions about an issue or procedure that you don’t understand. All questions are good questions.
3.  Try to limit the emails so that the emails and calls are not daily occurrences. Daily calls and emails can really drive costs up. Save the questions for a once a week call or email.
4.  Good lawyers always want to win; but, in family law, judges try to find compromises. Appreciate that not every point will be a landslide win.
5.  Be respectful in your communications with the judge.
6.  Learn the financial aspects of your case. Understand how incomes affect issues like child support and maintenance. Talk with you lawyer about divorce financial planning and cash flow     management.
7.  Read the pleadings filed by opposing counsel, but be mindful that these pleadings are only allegations.  In other words, don’t overreact, and keep in mind that the lawyers on the other side sometimes say things that are false or inflammatory.


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