Preparing For Our Meeting
At ELKINS & MUIR, P.L.L.C, we offer free, 30-minute consultations for family, juvenile and estate matters. You can call our office at 520-219-4040 to set up a time to meet with us, typically within a week. The best way to make use of your free consult is to bring whatever documents you may have, and a list of your important questions. See the checklist below for helpful information on what to bring to our meeting.
Documents You Will Need To Provide
General Financial Information
- Bank statements for each account on which you are a signer for the six months preceding the date
of service. We will also need bank statements throughout the divorce process as these must be
disclosed. Your spouse will also be required to disclose the same.
- Statements from all investment accounts for the six months preceding the date of service.
- Statements closest to the date of service for all retirement accounts of any type (IRA, 401k, 403b,
TSP, Military Retirement, DD214, etc.). If you accumulated value in the account prior to the date
of marriage, we need the balance on the date of marriage as well.
- Life insurance statements showing the cash value, face value and premiums.
- Personal tax returns for the last three years.
- If you own a business, the business tax returns for the last three years, and a profit and loss
statement for the current year.
- A list of personal property in excess of $500 such as art, antiques, jewelry, guns, coins, collections
of items of value, and your estimate of current value.
- The Kelly Blue Book value (use private party value) for every vehicle owned. For boats, RVs,
etc., use NADA value.
- Three recent paystubs
- Copies of credit card statements for the six months preceding the date of service
- Copy of documentation of any personal loans you have taken, and purpose
- Current student loan statements, and anything showing balance on the date of marriage
- A copy of the deed(s)
- The mortgage statement nearest the date of service of the petition
- The purchase price and the date of purchase
- The source of funds used for the down payment
If You Are Seeking Spousal Maintenance
- The long form financial affidavit, completed in detail
- Inventory of property
If You Have Children
- A complete financial affidavit – short form
- The cost of children’s health insurance – please give us your employer’s benefit statement
showing costs for health, dental and vision. Please note that for TriCare we will need the Social Security number for the active duty
service member, as well as premiums and leave/earnings statements.
- Documents proving how much you pay for child care both during the school year and the
- Your proposal for parenting time in detail
- If there have been protective orders now or in the past, a copy of the petition and the order
- The name and address of any mental health provider treating you, your spouse, children
- If there have been criminal proceedings against you, your spouse, or your child, provide the court
and case number
- If there has been DCS involvement, please tell us
What To Know About Costs
There are only a few kinds of cases that have predictable costs, and those are matters that do not involve litigation. Wills, trusts, and accompanying estate-planning documents are done on a flat fee basis. At ELKINS & MUIR, P.L.L.C we can offer lower retainer amounts with a “pay-as-you-go” approach to legal fees. This helps our clients keep costs down and avoid huge payments at the beginning of a case.
The total cost of a family or juvenile law matter can be impossible to predict. There are no “average” or “normal” family law cases. We will tell you, right up front, what you’ll have to pay to hire us. A retainer is like a deposit on the fees and costs you will incur during the case. We set our retainers based, in large part, on the type of case, which court has jurisdiction, and our estimate of the level of conflict. We then balance that with an assessment of your resources, and discuss it with you before setting your retainer. A retainer is sometimes sufficient your fees and costs. In most cases, however, the retainer is only part of the cost and may be, frankly, only a drop in the bucket. Our payment program allows clients to post lower retainers and pay a monthly payment for services as they are rendered and until your bill is paid in full.
Controlling Your Costs
One of the main things you can do to save money is to be prepared. You can organize your information or your lawyer can, but it must be organized for the court. Spending your time gathering the financial information required for disclosure, or putting together your documents and exhibits for a hearing will save you legal bills. Document management can cost clients hundreds of dollars. Copying, sorting, organizing and reviewing can add up to hours and hours for staff, paralegals and lawyers . One way to significantly reduce this expense is to scan your own documents and organize them with descriptive titles. Provide only the digital documents to your divorce lawyer on disk or by email, organized into folders. It will make their lives easier and your bills smaller.
Try To Avoid Conflict
Conflict is, plain and simple, the biggest factor in determining the final cost of your case, whether it’s a divorce, juvenile matter, parenting dispute or modification of child support. Keeping the conflict to a low boil and choosing your battles will end up saving you a not-so-small fortune in attorney fees.
The art of compromise may be especially distasteful during a divorce action, due to the emotions associated with these cases. Yet there’s no doubt that compromise is necessary if you sincerely want to resolve disputes. Results are better, costs are lower, and you’ll avoid the anxiety and expense of a prolonged court battle. Take a deep breath and ask yourself, “is this really worth it?” Let us know the answer, and we will fight your battles as though they were our own.
Short Phone Calls
Since you’re paying your attorney on an hourly basis, keep your telephone conversations short — the meter is running. Avoid making several calls a day; instead, consolidate your questions and ask them all in one conversation. Stay focused. Ask yourself if you already know the answer to your question. Think about the value of the lawyer’s time in providing an answer. For example, if you call up the lawyer and have a 40-minute conversation about how much you really want to get the small television in the bedroom, you’ve just spent at least $200 to try and get an asset worth maybe $75.
Also, it’s less expensive to talk with support staff rather than speaking directly with the attorney unless you have a specific reason to do so. Remember, you’re in control of who answers your questions and takes your information. If the staff can’t answer your question, they’ll let you know when you need to talk to the attorney managing your case.
There’s no doubt that using email is the most cost effective way of communicating with your attorney. People read faster than they talk, plus email tends to focus questions and abbreviate answers.
Unreasonable clients should expect to be charged accordingly. One of the most important ways for a client to reduce attorney fees is by making informed and reasonable decisions about the management of their case. It’s hard to think clearly in the middle of a divorce or other family or juvenile matter. So many emotions and memories can become involved in our decisions. This clouded judgment can sometime result in unreasonable expectations. And while some people perceive going to court as “rolling the dice” there is very little that is random about the law. It’s not as if the judge would give you 100% of the marital estate one day, and 20% the next.
Since the law is not random, and since many aspects of these matters are highly predictable for an experienced lawyer, you should really trust your lawyer when they tell you “you can’t get it”, whatever “it” might be. Certainly ask why, but once she’s explained it, move on. You can spend an infinite amount money arguing against a foregone conclusion and it won’t change a thing except your bill.
Avoid Court When Possible
Sometimes you have control over this, and sometimes you don’t. An unreasonable, or unbalanced spouse can often leave you no option but to ask the judge for help, but in those cases where you do have control, rest assured that going to a hearing will create significantly more expense.
Contact us about a free consultation today.