- Avoid the "go for the jugular attorneys." They spend too much time racking up fees in heavy litigation which may have been avoided if reason and calm had prevailed. For a list of attorneys who have taken the Creed of Professionalism which includes an effort to avoid unnecessary litigation see Attorneys List
- Know what the facts are on both sides. It is unlikely that you or your spouse will want to settle when there are factual questions left unanswered. Settlement under these circumstances would also be ill advised. The longer you leave factual questions unanswered the longer it will probably take to settle and the more attorneys fees you incur.
- Be mutually cooperative in the fact finding (discovery) process. In the absence of cooperation attorneys have to send out subpoenas and formal requests and demands and may even have to get the court involved. Expensive!
- Understand what the laws are, not what you would like them to be, unless you want to go all the way up to the Supreme Court with a new theory. It had better be a very good theory otherwise you have wasted a lot of money. Most people just want to get through their divorces and not make new law.
- Use your attorney effectively and creatively. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney to take charge of your case in its entirety, consider working with an attorney behind the scenes. You do all the running around. You represent yourself as a 'pro se'. This way the attorney does not have to spend time (your dollars) dealing with the courts and the other attorney or the other pro se. You pay for the advice (and probably getting your attorney to draft the court documents) and off you go. It can be very cost effective.
TIP: If you are having difficulty negotiating with the attorney for the other side, it may be better for you to hire your attorney to negotiate for you. Experienced attorneys are generally good at negotiation; they know the law and can quickly go back and forward in a settlement conversation. If the other side is a pro se, i.e. not an attorney, negotiation may be difficult whether or not you have an attorney to negotiate for you. In that case you may want to consider early mediation by a qualified mediator who can be your go between.
- Mediation: Mediation can be a great way to save money in divorce proceedings. This can involve pro ses, the couple without attorneys, or couples with their attorneys. A good mediator will gently push people to settlement. Having an attorney with you can make the process go faster as your attorney is immediately available to advise. This saves time.
- Get ready to compromise. It is unlikely that you will get everything that you want in a divorce settlement unless the other side is really off base and you are extraordinarily reasonable. Therefore, consider what is least important to you and what may be important to your spouse and be ready to use this to bargain. See the article on Negotiation for tips on how to reach a win-win solution.