When It Comes to Attorney Fees: Know Your Limits
While it is important to keep moving toward your long term goals in your divorce case, trials can end up taking a long of time and costing more money than you were prepared to spend. This is especially the case if you are dealing with an uncooperative spouse. In these situations, do your best to stay on top of the costs, and know when to settle or move the case to a trial.
Know when to call it quits in settlement talks. You can’t afford to continue incurring attorney fees and costs if you’re going to end up in trial anyways.
Waiving Fees for Small Claims
If you are making a relatively small claim, founded upon your spouse’s lack of cooperation, consider waiving your claim for fees in order to settle the case itself on terms that meet your important long-term objectives.
It’s unwise to take your case to trial just to recover a small amount of fees. Similarly, consider offering to settle the case if your spouse will waive his or her claim for attorney’s fees.
When Attorney Fees Are More Substantial
On the other hand, if your case is complex and if there are substantial fees and costs of litigation, the fees assume a great deal of importance. As the attorney fees increase in size relative to the amount of property at stake, your attorney’s fees and cost claims become an important asset on the marital balance sheet.
Don’t give away a legitimate request for substantial fees without getting something of value in return. If your spouse continues to be unreasonable, that’s a major reason why trials are available; to keep one spouse from having too much control or power over the other.
Settlement Proposals: When to Agree and When to Call It Quits
When one spouse makes a settlement proposal, the other spouse’s counter-proposal often “accepts” only the favorable portions of the proposal while rejecting the rest. If the counter-proposal is reasonable and shows a desire to work toward a settlement, discussions start in earnest. If the response is unreasonable, particularly if problems arose during discovery, don’t waste time and money on a settlement.
Continuing discussions under these circumstances would amount to continually raising your offering to your spouse until it was finally accepted. In this situation, it’s better to have your case tried in court.
Know when to call it quits in settlement talks. You can’t afford to continue incurring attorney’s fees and costs in trying to squeeze a settlement out of an unwilling spouse if you’re going to end up trying your case anyway. Document your attempts to settle the case reasonably, and then request the court to award you the portion of your attorney’s fees and costs due to trial of issues that your spouse should have settled.