For eleven years I’ve been asked this very question by tens of thousands of fathers from not only in the US, but also Canada, Europe, South America, and Australia. The answer is always the same. You learn to do as much of the legal legwork as possible, so that you are not paying your attorney anymore than is absolutely necessary. And get a second job.
There are many things you can be doing to reduce costs.
- Write a chronological statement before hiring an attorney. Sub-tract 60-120 minutes of attorney fees.
- Seek out witnesses on your behalf. Have them write a two page statement, have it notarized, and give them to the attorney. Sub-tract 30-60 minutes of attorney fees per witness.
- Keep a daily journal of all your activities (except sex) with times, names, and places. Sub-tract $500-$1000 cost to represent you for each occurrence of a false allegation.
- Learn how to prove denial of visitation, how to put your evidence together, and how to write a “Notice of Intent to Exercise Visitation.” Save 30 minutes for each notice you write and the attorney doesn’t. Save $1000-$2000 for each time the attorney has to go to court over an enforcement action.
- Make your visitation order very clear and concise, so that the mother does not have a loop hole to prevent you from seeing your children. Save thousands over the life of your court order.
- Study, study, study. Learn what the divorce and paternity laws are in your state. Find out if you have a pro se law to enforce visitation. Learn if there are specific limits on how often the mother violates the court orders, before losing custody.
Don’t expect your attorney to tell you all this. His job is not only to represent you, but also to earn an income. Attorneys have a very high rate of clients defaulting on their bills. And it does not matter if they charge a high hourly rate, or work with their clients to make payments on a low hourly rate. About 35% of their client will default on the bills. They will get fathers who will not help in the case, or even do stupid things to harm the case, than when he doesn’t get what he wants, he refuses to pay his bill. This cost the rest of us.
So, don’t blame the attorneys for the high legal fees. They still have to pay their staff, office expenses, and all the other yearly expenses of being an attorney. If you want to save money, learn how to do as much of the leg work as possible. That is why I developed the membership manual for the National Congress for Fathers & Children. Others in the father’s rights movement oppose the idea, saying it would never work. So I did it anyway, using my own money to prove that it was what fathers needed in their individual cases. That was eight years ago.