There are lots of articles about how to control legal costs in your divorce case, click here or here for some additional advice on how to save money on your legal bill for your divorce case. If you want to know the secret to keeping your legal bill for your divorce lawyer low, here it is. Get your financial documents in order early and get them to your lawyer as soon as you possibly can. That’s it. Get your docs together.
One of the biggest problems I have in my practice is chasing after clients that haven’t submitted all of their initial disclosures. It will delay your case. It will hurt settlement negotiations (or halt them altogether) and it will put your lawyer at a distinct disadvantage if there is a hearing coming up.
I tell people which disclosures they need to provide when they first come in to see me, I tell them with the handouts I give them early on in the case, I email them (several times) a list of the documents we need, and I’m about to tell you again. There really is no excuse to not getting this done. Here again is a list of some of the important documents that your divorce lawyer (in North Carolina – other states may have other requirements) will need:
- A completed financial affidavit (if you or your spouse is requesting spousal or child support);
- Paystubs for the past 3 months (minimum);
- Six months (minimum) of bank statements for EVERY bank account you have your name on;
- Six months (minimum) of credit card statements for EVERY credit card you have your name on;
- 2-3 years of tax returns;
- Current retirement statements for every retirement account statement you have an interest in; and,
- Six months (minimum) of investment, stock, mutual fund, etc. statements for EVERY investment account that you have your name on.
This is just the minimum amount of information we need. Preferably, you will submit much more.
When we ask for statements, we mean statements. A statement is NOT a: Screenshot, list of transactions downloaded into a word processor, or one page of a ten page statement. Preferably, you will submit a hard copy or PDF of the entire statement. For most banks, you can go online and download copies of historic statements for the past one year at least. I recommend you do that and submit all the statements you can access.
Trust me on this, doing this early, and updating your attorney with new information every month or two will save you a bundle on your legal fees, and will also lead to a better resolution for your divorce case.