The short answer is that you are paying for your attorney’s TIME and it’s likely that neither you nor your lawyer fully discussed how he/she bills and how your case could be handled for less money. How much it will cost and how can you save money are important questions you need to be asking your attorney.
There are also lots of emotions associated with divorce and custody disputes. Oftentimes clients use their attorney inappropriately. What do I mean? I mean that you use your attorney like a therapist when they aren’t trained and are more expensive than a therapist. Get a therapist and it will definitely save you money.
Also, you call and/or email your attorney too much. Every time you have communication with your attorney you are paying for it. Smart clients know to “save up” their questions and ask all questions either in one email or one short in person meeting with the attorney.
You also fail to ask your attorney what things are going to cost as the case moves along or you don’t think about your divorce or custody case like it is—an important financial decision. Oftentimes, I try to give clients an understanding of options and what those options will cost. However, rarely do I hear clients really approaching their case based on what they can afford or whether they financially think it’s worth it to pursue different courses of action. If every client viewed his/her divorce as the important financial decision that it is there would be way fewer people in court and better financial decisions being made all the way around.
Bottom line: Ask questions, keep the communication lines open with your attorney about fees and approach all legal matters as the important business decisions that they are. You wouldn’t build a house you couldn’t afford. Why are you spending more than you can afford on your divorce?