7 Things You Can Do to Reduce Your Legal Costs

By Jennifer Hetherington

When you engage a family lawyer you want to be certain that you are spending money on specialist, sensitive and sensible advice, not wasting on things you could have done yourself with a little bit of preparation. 

If you are attending an initial consultation and hoping to get advice about your property settlement entitlements, preparation will help your lawyer to be able to give you answers.

So here are my top 7 tips to get the most out of your legal fees:

  1. Get a couple of real estate agents to come and give you an appraisal on your house so you have an idea of what it is worth.
  2. Do a “redbook” search on all motor vehicles and give them to your lawyer.
  3. Obtain valuations for all superannuation funds you and your former spouse have using this formThings to be aware of:

​a) You will need to specify the date you want the value. We suggest using the following dates:

               i.    The date you started living together;

               ii.    The date you separated (if more than 6 months ago);

               iii.    If you separated more than 6 months ago, the current date.

b) Some funds charge a fee for the information (and some per date). Contact them to ask the fee so you can send payment with the forms.

c) A fund cannot legally disclose to your spouse that a request has been made for information about their superannuation. 

  1. Prepare a Statement of your Assets and Liabilities and a Financial StatementThe values on it should link up with any appraisals you have obtained.  Jennifer Hetherington
  1. Be organised:

a) If you have court documents, put them into a folder.  I suggest using dividers as follows:

                  i.    Court Orders

                  ii.    My court documents

                  iii.    Other party’s court documents

Have everything in date order within each section with the most recent document on the top, oldest at the bottom.

b) If you have financial or other documents, also put them into a folder.  I suggest using dividers which could include the following:

                    i.    Bank statements (make sure these are in order with the newest on the top and check if any are missing);

                    ii.    Taxation documents (if any of your tax returns are missing order copies from the ATO;

                    iii.    Valuations

  1. Remember that lawyers charge you for their time – it doesn’t matter if it is in person, on the telephone or reading and replying to emails.  Instead of sending lots of short emails, put it all into one email and send it. 
  1. Ask your lawyer to BCC you on all correspondence to the other party so that you are kept in the loop about your matter but also don’t have to pay for a separate email to be sent to you forwarding it on.

Jennifer Hetherington is a Queensland Law Society Accredited Specialist – Family Law and Principal with Hetherington Legal.