Last year a man scheduled an initial conference with an experienced family law attorney to discuss plans for a “simple” divorce. After the conference the man decided to do it himself.
This was a very capable and successful business man, who with the help of a typing service, filed the required pleadings, paid the required fees, and eventually took his wife’s default and entered a Judgment. So far so good. However, upon receiving the filed Judgment from the Court, the wife hired an attorney and filed a motion to ‘set aside’ the Judgment. At this point the man went back to the attorney he originally consulted and was surprised when the fee estimate was more than before. Why had the fee increased? Because the man’s attorney now had to review the entire court file and either defend the wife’s ‘set aside’ request, which is not always an easy task, and then (if the ‘set aside’ is granted) go back and re-litigate the entire case; or if the ‘set aside’ was denied, possibly litigate the issues of custody, support and omitted assets and debts.
This is not an uncommon scenario. Clients who represent themselves or change lawyers in the middle of the case need to understand that the new lawyer has to spend time learning the case history, planning the next steps to complete the litigation, and then carry out those steps to completion. This often adds expense which cannot be avoided.
Before deciding to start your case as a self-represented party, or for a represented party to change lawyers in the middle of the case, be sure to ask the new lawyer, “How much more will it cost?” and “What are the problem issues which could increase the cost as this case progresses to completion?”
Need additional help in other family law areas besides ‘The Cost of Change’? Call the Law Office of Family Law Specialist Richard E. Bawden for legal issues regarding adoption, annulment, collaborative divorce, child custody, child support, divorce, domestic violence, legal separation, litigation, mediation, legal separation, paternity, spousal support, pre-marital and post-marital agreements. Dial 909.792.0222 or email us at [email protected] You might also want to get more information at our website: www.richardbawdenlaw.com. The Law Office of Richard E. Bawden serves the Inland Empire including Riverside, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Redlands, Loma Linda, Mentone, Yucaipa, Beaumont, Banning and Hemet.