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 if you would like more information about retaining my services.
What should I expect from an initial consult?
An initial consult gives us an opportunity to meet each other, talk about the legal avenues for getting your case resolved, and discuss what is concerning you the most with the legal issues you are facing. It also gives you an opportunity to get a feel for me and decide whether I’m someone you want to work with. If you’d like to get into more details about your case, you can schedule a case evaluation session where we can formulate a strategy for moving forward with your case. A case evaluation session is also a good option if you have a complex case, or if you want more time to talk with me.
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 or enforce your judgment, please bring in a copy of that judgment. Otherwise, just bring yourself!
How much do you charge for an initial consult?
I offer a 45 minute initial consult for $100. This is a great option for people who want to dive into the details of their case, formulate a strategy for moving forward, and want to get a jump start on the process. 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 from an initial case evaluation.
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.
Where are you licensed to practice law?
I am actively licensed in Michigan, so I only take Michigan cases. I have an inactive license in Oregon. If you have an Oregon case and need assistance, I’m happy to provide you with a referral.
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 attorneys with similar experience. 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. I use my knowledge to tailor my legal services to your specific case in the most cost effective way possible. I strive to offer excellent services to my clients at a good value.
What is a retainer and how does it work?
A retainer is an amount that an attorney requests upfront 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. By law, that interest goes to Legal Aid Services to pay for legal services for the poorest in our community. As work is done on your case and those funds are earned, the money is transferred to the lawyer’s business account. If there is any money in the retainer at the end of your case, that amount is refunded to you.
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, which makes it easier for us to put together a list of your assets and debts. If you haven’t been responsible for the family finances and you need some help putting together a list of your assets and debts, I’m happy to work with you on this.
How long will my 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 8-12 months. Most cases settle prior to trial. Michigan has a 60-day waiting period in all cases, meaning that there must be at least 60 days between the date you file your case before your divorce judgment can be accepted by the court. If you have children, there is a 6-month waiting period.
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, employment, 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 having me represent you. 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.