The title of today’s blog post is meant to be a little bit provocative. When we talk about something being cheap, we usually don’t do so in a positive sense. If you were to call a person cheap, that would be something very negative about them. We all have a friend or two that we know are good people, but when it comes to picking up a check at dinner or being generous with their money, that isn’t something in their nature. We like this person, but it is despite there being a little cheap with their money.
If you bought a car, piece of electronics, or household item and referred to it as cheap, we would only assume that you had a negative opinion of that product or item: a cheap toaster breaks and burns your toast. A cheap car doesn’t get you from point A to point B because it breaks down all the time or regularly requires significant repairs. Either way, nobody wants to be the cheap guy, have a cheap car, or depending upon a cheap toaster to make their breakfast.
With that said, it is interesting to me that finding a cheap attorney he’s not seen as something as negative as wanting to find a cheap car or cheap anything else. Maybe it has something to do with not wanting to spend any more money than you have to on something as unpleasant as a family law case. So, maybe on an emotional level, the less you spend on your case, the less it will feel like you are devoting your life and efforts to something that is not pleasant in that the worst could be something harmful to your relationship and that of your children.
There is also an impulse that most of us share of wanting to find a bargain whenever possible. Black Friday and the Tax-Free Weekend in August are just two examples of times that we join our collective efforts to search for bargains on any number of items. Well, I think there is some degree of wanting to find a bargain in hiring an attorney, as well. The fact is that hiring an attorney is an investment and makes cost money. Unfortunately, you may find that the less money you spend on your attorney, the service you are provided is commensurate with the amount of money you spend.
When it comes to a family attorney: do you get what you pay for?
Sometimes when you go to a friend or family member to talk about bad service or a bad result from a product that you purchased, they’ll tell you something along the lines of well, you get what you pay for. This is sort of a flippant comment to tell you that because you didn’t spend a whole lot of money on something that you shouldn’t have expected any other result. The trouble with saying things like this is that it does not consider your circumstances or your motivation for making a particular purchase. Certainly, the reality of the situation is that the reason why you hired a particular attorney is probably multifaceted and based on several different circumstances.
Hiring an attorney is much different from purchasing a new television or even purchasing a new car. So much more goes into the planning of the process associated with hiring an attorney than buying a new television that you need to be aware of the steps necessary to adequately prepare for what it would be like to hire a lawyer. If you have never hired an attorney before, then this experience can be difficult. However, the more you prepare for hiring an attorney, the better off you will be. This is certainly true when it comes to finding the most cost-effective and cheapest way to get a divorce.
The trouble with getting a cheap divorce is that many people associate getting a cheap divorce with needing to hire a cheap attorney. It stands to reason that the less expensive your attorney is, the less expensive you are overall, divorce will be. Certainly, some of the major concerns people have about expensive divorces centers around paying a fair bit of money for an attorney. You need to ask yourself whether kidding a cheap divorce is consistent with having a cheap family law attorney. I’m here to tell you that to get an inexpensive divorce probably does not benefit you very much to get a cheap lawyer.
Before you think that I am only saying these things because I am an attorney, I want to share my thoughts on how hiring a cheap attorney can increase the costs of your divorce. Even though the cost of hiring an attorney represents a substantial part of your overall costs in the divorce, that does not mean that the costs of an attorney should be the only factor you consider when it comes to getting a less expensive divorce case overall. In general, I think it’s pretty straightforward that the experience severe attorney in helping you obtain a more efficient divorce can be more important to your case than actually paying the least amount of money for a lawyer.
An experienced attorney may cost more but can save you in the long run.
One of the benefits of having an experienced family law attorney by your side in a case is that they know the process and can help you by guiding your case through the divorce or child custody procedures in an efficient manner. Simply being able to know where did where to file documents, how to include information in certain documents that will help a judge or opposing party, understanding how to negotiate with an aim towards settling, and working with you efficiently to maximize the opportunities you have to meet communicate with one another are just a few of the ways that are having an experienced attorney can assist you in completing your case sooner rather than later.
An experienced attorney may end up costing you a little bit more as compared to a less experienced attorney. The more experienced attorney is likely to help more clients than a less experienced attorney and may therefore charge you more money. It is up to you to do the cost-benefit analysis of hiring an experienced attorney and paying a little bit more to do so. However, it would help if you also considered additional factors other than hiring a lawyer. You have so many circumstances involved in your divorce that to hire an attorney only based on how much money they charge would be number steak.
Another factor to keep in mind is that the more you and your co-parent can negotiate with one another over the matters related to your case, the shorter your case is likely to be. Shorter cases typically mean less expensive cases. So, you don’t need to necessarily look for an attorney who is the toughest or meanest on the block. Those aren’t necessarily bad qualities to look for in an attorney but do these qualities is being most important would be a mistake. Rather, if your goal is to make it out of your divorce case as efficiently as possible, then having an attorney willing to work with your opposing counsel and negotiate your case fairly is a tremendous advantage.
An important factor to remember when it comes to the overall cost of your divorce is that even if you don’t hear from your attorney, that does not mean that they are not working on your case. The time spent working on your case equates to money being spent by you on the attorney—experience matters in this regard for a couple of different reasons. First, an experienced attorney is more likely to be an efficient attorney. That means that with your lawyer, you will not have to make a mistake and then go back and do something over. There is no clause in your contract, most likely, with the attorney that says you don’t have to pay him when they make a mistake.
The other thing that you need to be aware of is that an experienced attorney is more suited towards negotiation and helping you identify those circumstances, which can lead to a quicker end to your case. For example, you need to be aware that there is a time and a place for negotiation in a time for moving towards litigation. The trouble that many attorneys have is that they attempt to hold on to hope longer than need is in one area when it is clear that the better plays to move on to the other method.
For example, I have seen attorneys attempt fruitlessly to negotiate with their opposing party on several issues in a divorce when it is clear that negotiation is not going to results in the settlement of that issue. The more prudent thing to have done would have been to understand that the settlement will not come out of that particular negotiation instead of moving towards preparing for a hearing or trial. Understanding your limitations as a lawyer means that you need to have some degree of experience in walking through family law cases. Without that experience, your lawyer may attempt to draw out a case to negotiate their way through a problem period; sometimes, the experience will help your attorney understand that negotiation will not produce anything fruitful and that they are better off stopping negotiations and proceeding into litigation.
Negotiate do not litigate
Generally speaking, however, it is less expensive and less costly for you to negotiate your way through a divorce than attending hearings and a trial. There are many reasons for this. Number one, you and your opposing party are free to negotiate with one another on your own time rather than using your attorneys. Remember what I told you earlier about work being done in your case? Even if you are not actively participating in the negotiations, you are paying your attorney in their office to do so for you. This costs you money. On the other hand, you could negotiate with your opposing party and save time and money in doing so.
Next, engaging in dialogue and negotiation with their Co-parent means that you all are talking through the issues. Talking through the issues means that you do not have to go to court but that you are establishing a degree of trust with one another. Doing so can avoid circumstances where you all engage in disruptive behavior based on misunderstandings and a lack of trust. These misunderstandings after and emanate from the fact that you all have no open lines of communication with each other. This means that by opening up those lines of communication, it is less likely that you all will let small issues become festering ones at tender bother you all over time.
The trouble with these types of negotiations is that by failing to negotiate, you increase the likelihood that small disagreements become important ones that require you all to attend court. For example, if you and your Co-parent have a disagreement during the temporary orders phase of a divorce over an issue with drop off or pick up of your children, you may find yourself engaging in arguments back and forth that could have been sorted out through negotiation. However, if you have no lines of communication with your Co-parent, this means that it is more likely that you will have to employ your attorneys to settle the matter or even go to court to do so.
All the while, the breakdown of your relationship will not be fixed, and you will have spent money either using your attorneys to negotiate a subject or going to court. The lives of you and your children will not have benefited from your doing so, and you will not have improved the chances of settling your case or reaching a position where you guys can trust one another. Dialogue is important to maintaining a strong relationship with your Co-parent and can save you money both in the short and long term. The difference between expensive divorces and inexpensive divorces often centers around this one subject.
Solving your problems means saving money.
It is pretty much unavoidable that to file for divorce means that you will be spending money. Hiring an attorney, paying court and filing costs, and only other incidental costs of a divorce or child custody case cost money. However, it is completely up to you and your Co. The degree to which money has to be spent on other charges in that case. Overall, the more you and your Co-parent can solve issues affecting your case together, the less expensive your case will be.
Every divorce or child custody case is different. This is something that I have come to learn in my years as an attorney. Just because your divorce is a simple one does not mean that your seemingly similar divorce for your neighbors will be equally simple and contention-free. However, the difference between your case and that of your neighbor may be less about the circumstances of the case and more about you and your opposing parties’ willingness to negotiate with one another over the central issues you are facing.
The more you and your opposing party can work issues out yourselves, the less you all will have to focus on paying your attorneys to fight your battles or solve your problems. As we have already seen, the less you have to spend money on attorneys fees means the less time in court and the less money spent on your divorce or child custody case. This is critically important to the future health of your family and the health of your finances. Do not assume that because you and your Co-parent have many issues facing you, you cannot solve them through negotiation and open dialogue.
In closing, the overall costs of a divorce are not necessarily determined solely by the attorney you hire. It would be best if you moved forward in a case confidently, knowing that your attorney is there to serve you and your family. With that said, I recommend that you interview as many attorneys as you can and be prepared to make a decision that best reflects the needs of yourself and your family.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post; please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.