Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here is a list of frequently asked questions people have regarding family law matters. For more specific answers, please set up a time for a personalized consultation. You can also call my office or request that my staff contact you if you would like more information about retaining my services. My staff and I strive to return your inquiries no later than the next business day.

What should I expect from an initial consult?

An initial consult gives us an opportunity to talk about your case and get some of your legal questions answers. It also gives you an opportunity to get a feel for me and decide whether I’m someone you want to work with.

How do I schedule an initial consult?

You can use my online scheduler to make an appointment. You can also call during business hours or you can use my contact form and request someone from my staff contact you.

What do I need to bring with me to the initial consult?

If you have a court case pending, it is helpful to bring it along with any paperwork you’ve been served with, or any paperwork you want me to review. If you want to modify your judgment, please bring in a copy of the judgment you want to modify. Otherwise, just bring yourself!

How much do you charge for an initial consult?

An initial consult costs $100 and lasts up to 45 minutes. You can pay by cash, check, Visa, or MasterCard. While many attorneys charge their standard hourly rates for consults, I charge a reduced rate to encourage people to get advice sooner rather than later. Even if you think you can’t afford to have an attorney represent you, you can gain a lot of valuable information in an initial consult.

If I come in for an initial consult, do I need to retain your services?

No, absolutely not. At the end of your consult, if I think you may be interested in retaining my services, I will email you an agreement. I do not ask people to sign a retainer agreement at an initial consult, although sometimes clients want to start the process right away and ask to sign an agreement then. You should never feel pressured to sign an agreement with an attorney on the spot. Sometimes, if your case has court appearances or deadlines quickly approaching, you may need to make a decision about retaining services quickly. But in the vast majority of cases, you will have ample time to consider who you want to have represent you.

How do I select an attorney for my family law case?

I appreciate that it may seem daunting to find the right attorney for your case. Family law cases are especially personal, so it is important to find someone you are comfortable talking to about matters that may be uncomfortable and trust that your advocate will listen to you without judgment. You also want someone with substantial experience in family law matters.

Do you provide second opinions?

Yes! If you are not comfortable with your attorney for any reason, it is a good idea to get a second opinion. It may be that your attorney is doing everything appropriate for your case, or something significant may be overlooked. It’s best to talk to someone sooner when you start to feel uncomfortable with how your case is being handled. Once you’ve reached settlements or gone to trial, it is very difficult to change the outcome.

I live in Washington State. Can you help me?

I am licensed to practice law in Oregon only. If one person lives in Oregon and one person lives in Washington, depending on the specific facts of your case, you may need to file in Washington or in Oregon, or you may have a choice of which place to file. If you have a choice of which state to file in, you should consider the legal remedies available in each jurisdiction. I can help you assess whether you can file in Oregon and the legal remedies available to you in Oregon.

How much will my case cost?

Like virtually all family law attorneys, I charge by the hour. My hourly rate is quite competitive compared to people with my experience level. The total fees charged will be based on the total time spent on your case. The total time spent on your case depends on many factors, including the complexity of your case, how quickly a settlement is reached, whether court appearances are required, and how involved I am with the discovery process of your case, which is the process of exchanging relevant information.

What is a retainer and how does it work?

A retainer is an amount that an attorney charges and holds in the attorney’s trust account for work that will be done. It’s much like filling your car up at the gas station. As the gas is used up, you’ll need to refill the tank. At the initial consult, if you are interested in retaining my services, I can tell you what the retainer would be in your particular case. Each month, I send out invoices letting you know how much of your retainer has been used and how much, if any, is owing, including any retainer replenishments.

What happens to the retainer money I’ve paid?

Every attorney who accepts retainer payments must have a special bank account called an IOLTA where client retainers are pooled. Each individual retainer would be too low to earn interest. But pooled together, the interest on every client’s money in every attorney’s trust account can really add up. Under Oregon law, that interest goes to Legal Aid Services of Oregon to pay for legal services for the poorest in our community. Work is done on your case and those funds are earned, the money is transferred to the lawyer’s business account.

I want to work with you but I can’t afford the retainer. What are my options?

I work with clients to provide unbundled legal services, which is a way to have an attorney assist with discrete aspects of your case. You can also use some of the low cost legal services available here. If you have family or friends that can assist with paying the retainer, they can submit a payment on your behalf directly through my online billpay by including your name on the reference line of the billpay system.

How can I minimize my legal expenses?

You can minimize your legal expenses by promptly providing me information when requested, staying focused on legal issues, and engaging in reasonable settlement efforts. The legal system can’t address all the wrongs that occurred in your marriage or relationship. I can help you determine what issues are legally important and what issues may be of serious concern to you, but would be better addressed through other resources. It also helps if you have a complete understanding of your finances so I don’t need to assist you with determining what assets and debts you have, although if you don’t, I’m happy to help with this.

How long will may case take?

Each case is unique, so there is no set timeframe. The court has a goal of having divorce cases going to trial within 9-12 months. Most cases settle prior to trial. Oregon abolished its waiting period requirement for divorces. I’ve had some cases where people have already reached agreements, paperwork just needs to be drafted, and the entire case is wrapped up within a few weeks. Sometimes cases do extend beyond the one-year mark, most often because there are unusual complications regarding the sale of real property or experts needs to be involved with a custody evaluation or business appraisal.

If I hire you, what will you expect of me?

I expect clients to respond to my requests for information completely, accurately, and promptly. You also need to keep me informed of any significant changes, such as changes to your residence, email, telephone number, and significant events that occur and are relevant to your case. I know that it’s not always easy to talk about personal things. I’m here to provide you with legal advice based on your unique situation. If I don’t know pertinent facts, I can’t give you accurate legal advice, and your needs aren’t best served.

If I hire you, what can I expect of you?

You can expect me to be a compassionate advocate who has your best interests at heart and that I will provide you with my advice on how to move forward with your case. Going through a major life change isn’t easy, and a contested case isn’t easy either. Sometimes, part of my job is giving clients news they don’t want to hear. I provide clients with realistic assessments of their situation based on my knowledge and expertise. Once you understand the risks and benefits of your options, it is up to you to decide which path to pursue. You should expect to feel listened to and understood throughout the process.

I’ve had my initial consult and ready to move forward with the next steps. What do I do?

If you’ve decided you want to retain me as your attorney, please call or email me and let me know that you’ve decided to move forward with my representation. I will need you to sign and return the attorney-client agreement I’ve sent you along with the retainer. You can also make your retainer deposit here. I’ll follow up with you and send you a client questionnaire to get additional information and let you know what more needs to be done in your specific case. I look forward to working with you.