By Arizona Divorce Lawyer Julie LaBenz
PART 1: To hire a divorce lawyer or not, that is the question.
In order to spend less on a divorce, a full service divorce lawyer most likely is not your cheapest option. More affordable alternatives include hiring a “limited scope” divorce attorney or representing yourself.
Lawyers often respond to client questions with, “It depends,” and often use this response when asked to quote the final amount of legal fees for a new matter.
Because most lawyers bill their clients by the hour (usually at $250 to $400 or more per hour), the client is expected to pay a large advanced fee deposit up front and then continue to pay more when that initial deposit is exhausted.
With many aspects of a divorce case being out of a lawyer’s control, the final cost when hourly billing is involved, is usually unknown. Even if a lawyer tries really hard to resolve a divorce, if the other side doesn’t want to settle and plays games, then the hourly fees will pile up and the case could cost as much or more than college tuition for the kids.
Certainly, it’s ideal to have the right lawyer handle the entire case. Yet, not everyone has the thousands of dollars it takes to hire a lawyer full time while others have the money but simply don’t want to spend it on a lawyer.
Luckily, alternatives exist to the do-everything-for-you billable hour attorney where the client has no idea what the final cost of their divorce lawyer will be.
Although fraught with challenges and a steep learning curve, one option is to represent yourself. The Arizona courts provide free fill-in-the-blank court forms at the on-line “self-service center.”
Those that use the court forms may (at least at the outset) conclude that they’re saving money. But they may find they end up paying much more if, a year or more later, they end up back in court fighting over the meaning of the terms in their poorly drafted divorce settlement agreement or if one side requests to change the terms.
As a result, representing yourself without obtaining any legal information or individualized case advice can be risky.
Instead of handling everything on your own, another option is to hire a lawyer, but only on a limited basis. That way, the lawyer and client can decide the type of work the lawyer will perform and the cost. This gives the client more certainty in regards to their legal fees plus individualized case advice and assistance.
Thus, utilizing limited scope legal services can be an effective way to save money during a divorce.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this 5 Part Series. In Part 2 I’ll provide a procedural tip that can save $40 to $300 or more in legal costs when filing for divorce.
Thinking about handling your divorce without a lawyer using the court’s fill in the blank forms? Or have you already started using the court’s divorce forms, are finding them difficult to use and are running into problems? Need help with your divorce papers? If so, consider joining Julie’s HELP WITH DIVORCE PAPERS members’ area to gain instant access to written and video explanations of the entire divorce process along with easy-to-use, fill-in-the-blank court forms created to empower you with legal information to help you achieve a fair and efficient divorce case outcome without breaking the bank. To learn more and to sign up, click here.
Wonder if it would be possible for you to get divorced in 90 days without stepping foot in a courtroom? Click Here to sign up to take our free quiz to find out if you are a good fit for a 90 day divorce.
Julie A. LaBenz has been licensed to practice law in Arizona since 2006. She is currently located in majestic Sedona, Arizona and focuses her law practice on divorce, estate planning and probate. To discuss your case with Julie, call 928-284-0909.
Disclaimers: 1) This article consists of legal information only and is not legal advice; 2) By reading this article Julie LaBenz does not become your attorney; 3) Julie LaBenz is licensed to practice in the state of Arizona in the jurisdictions in which she’s admitted to practice law.