Most people probably have no experience hiring a divorce lawyer, so here are some tips to help navigate the process.
What does a divorce attorney do?
Divorce attorneys are family law professionals who focus on issues related to dissolving a marriage. That will usually mean they help you through divorce, division of assets, spousal maintenance, and child custody and support,
A family law attorney may also help with the legal aspects of other family issues, such as paternity suits, estate planning, child welfare, adoptions, or adult guardianships. Some of these areas are specialties that require training and certification.
How do I find an attorney?
There are many ways to locate your attorney. References from friends and associates are often helpful. If you don’t have these, you can find lawyers in your area, using an online search.
Lawyers’ websites, such as Sanchez Curtis Law will often include reviews from former clients. These can be helpful in making your decision.
My relationship with my attorney
Once you have located an attorney, it’s essential that you are on same page. Divorce can be a stressful time and you want to make sure that you and your attorney agree on your goals and support each other to achieve them. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to before you hire them.
When you have trust in your attorney, it will help you stay calm in a difficult time. It will also help you stay organized: sometimes, divorce can require a lot of paperwork, especially financial data and record keeping.
How much will my divorce cost?
Before you hire your attorney, you will want to understand their fees and if possible, get some estimate of what your costs will be. Divorces are billed in one of these ways:
Hourly Fee with Retainer:
Retainers are fees paid for future services. Most commonly you will be asked to pay a retainer which will be some percentage of the amount the attorney feels the entire case will cost. Your hourly charges are then billed against that amount until the retainer is used up. Generally, your retainer contract should specify that if the retainer is not used, the remainder will be refunded to you. Hourly charges will include all work on your behalf, including court time and filings, mediation time, office and paperwork, and telephone and written communications.
Flat fee billing is not common, but if for some reason your case is without complications, such as an uncontested divorce, and your attorney feels it can be handled in a predictable amount of time, they may charge you a flat fee for your divorce.
How can I keep my costs reasonable?
Because divorces are almost always billed on the basis of hours of work, it’s clear that the less time your divorce takes, the less money it will cost.
One way you can keep costs down is by having your questions and information ready when you speak with your attorney. Try to avoid unnecessary calls – they really add up.
However, the most effective way to keep down costs is by having a divorce without unnecessary conflicts. Amicable divorces are not only easier on your finances, they are easier on the emotions of you, your spouse, and your children.
See Amicable Divorce Network for more information.