Everyone knows that going to court is expensive – there are filing fees, court fees, copying fees, mediation fees, and sometimes fees for third party neutrals. As part of Bluebird Law’s How to Save $ in Your Family Law Series, here are 4 helpful tips for saving money on costs:
Apply for waived filing fees. If you meet the state’s income requirements, which in Colorado is generally $3,203 for a family of four with less than $1,500 worth of assets, you may be eligible for waived filing fees. To ask the court to waive your filing fees, complete a JDF 205 – or Motion to File Without Payment of Filing fees – which you can find online. Be sure to read the court’s instructions before you fill out the JDF 205.
Collaborate with the other person. Similar to many other areas of law, there are really no winners in family law cases. You can either risk going to court and having the judge order something that is completely the opposite of what you wanted or you can work with the other person to come to an agreement that works for both of you. If you have a hard time communicating with the other person, one way to do this is mediation, which is an out of court process that is facilitated by a mediator who is familiar with family law and with judges in your area. If you agree on one or more things, the mediator can draft a memorandum of understanding, which you can file with the court and ask the court to enter as an order. In Colorado, the Office of Dispute Resolution features mediators who charge a reasonable rate of $150 per hour. You can also reach an agreement with the other person without mediation and ask the court to enter your agreement as a court order. The more issues you can settle with the other person, the more time, money, and energy you will save.
In cases with children, ask the judge to appoint a CLR instead of a CFI. In cases involving children, the court may appoint a Child and Family Investigator – or CFI – to make a report regarding what is in the children’s best interests. CFIs generally cost about $1,500 per person and take several months to make a detailed written report. Child Legal Representatives – or CLRs – on the other hand, have a similar role, generally cost less, and typically work faster because they advocate for the children orally to the court rather than making a written report. If you think the judge is going to appoint a CFI in your case, consider asking for a CLR instead. Note, if you meet the state’s indigency guidelines, you will likely qualify for a free CFI or CLR.
Find an attorney who is focused on resolution. All people approach problems differently based on their outlooks and their personalities – and attorneys are no different. If you decide to hire an attorney in your case, make sure you ask the attorney about their approach to resolution. Attorneys who present as “bulldogs” or promise to “fight for you” in family law cases are generally not focused on resolution and will likely drive up your costs by causing more conflict or by aggravating the conflict in your case.
Bluebird Law offers resolution-focused legal services to self-represented people all over Colorado. Recognizing that there is a time and place to vigorously advocate for our clients’ legal rights, we strive to approach all cases with a better and longer lasting resolution in mind. Schedule your free 20-minute consultation with an attorney today to discuss your case.
This article is informational and does not purport to give legal advice.