Divorce lawyers help clients get through the legal process that is a divorce. Based on the client’s goals, a divorce lawyer will send correspondence to the court and to opposing counsel; will file or respond to any necessary requests of the court (referred to as pleadings); and will conduct what is known as discovery (sending a set of questions to the other side and possibly even conduct depositions.) A divorce lawyer will help his or her client gather all required financial information (including lists of assets and debts); help draft a very detailed budget (known as a financial affidavit); and help draft a proposed parenting plan and divorce decree (the actual plan that divides the marital property and sets forth any child support, alimony, etc.)
Divorce Lawyers Deal with More than Just Divorce
Once a divorce is finalized and the judge has signed on the dotted line, sometimes the case is far from over. An ex may fail to pay alimony and/or child support on time. A co-parent may fail to abide by the agreed-upon or court-ordered parenting plan. An ex may fail to abide by the terns of the divorce degree in any number of ways. And many times, the innocent party must go back to court to resolve the situation. A family law lawyer will help in this process.
Things to Look for in a Divorce Attorney
Clients have many different goals in how they approach their divorce. In some cases, a person is extremely litigious (wants to fight absolutely everything) and therefore seeks an aggressive lawyer who is not afraid to go head-to-head with opposing counsel. In these cases, people should interview and choose an aggressive litigator. In other cases, a person wants the case to go as smoothly and as quickly as possible, and is willing to compromise on all of the issues. In these situations, a person should seek an attorney who has a reputation for working well with opposing counsel, is very reasonable and who has a track record of concluding cases in mediation and/or without involving much court intervention. Whatever the case, it is important for you to do your homework before hiring a family law lawyer
Costs of a Divorce Attorney
Unlike the case of personal injury, family law lawyers cannot accept cases on a contingency basis. In the majority of cases, they are not permitted to charge flat fees either. Rather, they will request a retainer up front and the cost of their work (hourly) will be deducted from the retainer amount. Once the retainer is almost gone, the attorney will request that more money be added. In many cases, attorneys may request anywhere from $2,000-$10,000 in retainer money, depending on the anticipated complexity of the case. Whatever money is not used must be returned to the client at the conclusion of the case. The other important to look at is the hourly rate of the attorney. The experience and location of the attorney will determine the hourly rate. A New York City attorney with 20 years of experience will cost a pretty penny. As you can imagine, that $10,000 retainer will get depleted pretty quickly.