Family law litigation cases can be expensive, even more so if you have the full gamut of issues, custody, child support, post-separation support, alimony and equitable distribution. One of the reasons for the expense is the document intensive nature of the all the claims, but especially those dealing with support and property.
The best way to save money in such a case is to remember to do three things when faced with an affidavit of financial standing, an equitable distribution affidavit or a request for production of documents: pay attention, do the work promptly and follow up.
Pay attention. This is easy. Listen to what your lawyer is telling is needed or read carefully what is requested. If you do not understand, ask questions of the attorney or paralegal until you do understand. Financial affidavits require income information and supporting documents. Some cases require monthly average expenses with supporting documents to support your allegations. Equitable distribution affidavits require asset and debt disclosures as of your date of separation and supporting documents. A production of documents request can seek a lot of documents which have a bearing on your case. Understand what you need to produce for your attorney.
Do the work promptly. Collect the documentation. You will need to obtain the documents from the source if you have control over the documents even if you do not have the documents at home or in your office. Examples are bank records, retirement account statements, electric bills.
Once you have the documents, organize them chronologically. Use a black Sharpie to redact the account numbers and your social security number except for the last four (4) digits. Then place the documents in separate folders. In a discovery response place the number of the discovery request on the folder. For the financial or ED affidavit use the item name (Bank of America Visa card…1234 or Electric Bills).
Yes, this is time consuming; however, having to pay an attorney or a paralegal for rummaging through a box full of unorganized documents attempting to figure out what some items are, redacting the documents and then organizing them is even less pleasurable.
Believe it or not a lot of attorneys feel bad when they send a bill that has a number of items on it which read “11.10.18 Reminder e-mail to client re discovery due December 1,” 11.15.18 second reminder e-mail and phone message to client re Discovery due December 1.” You get the picture, paying an attorney to remind you to work on YOUR case is unwise.
Follow up. No one will provide everything needed and even if you do, reviewing the documents could lead to more documents that are needed because there was something that led to something else, a red flag or a notation regarding an item no one remembered. Remember to respond in the same fashion as above and do not need to be reminded.
If you follow the above guidelines you will save a lot of money in your family law case.