An Open Letter From A Santa Clarita Divorce Lawyer

An Open Letter From A Santa Clarita Divorce Lawyer

Okay, so shame on me for changing the title of this letter that was not written from a Santa Clarita divorce lawyer.  Admittedly, I changed the title to gain some search engine help to localize the article.

That said, I wanted to share with you, what has been titled, “Open Letter From A Divorce Lawyer.”  I read the entire letter and it casts an interesting light of how divorce lawyers may think about the divorce process, their job and their clients.

I have to admit, having worked at a law firms for some time, that many of these words are truisms.

The the letter is written from a “divorce lawyer” to their client in such a way as to shed some light on the practice of law, perhaps, and that of divorce.

I think it is an interesting read and thus have included it below.  I hope you enjoy it.

Dear client:

I am pleased that you have hired me to represent you in your divorce. I’m pleased because I need the money you and others like you pay me. I’m tired of working with people like you who are always fighting and never happy, and often unhappy with me, but I feel trapped now and don’t know how I could change my practice at this point in my career without a huge financial setback, so I hang on and do the best job I can, the best way I know, for clients like you.

If you’re like most people going through divorce, you’ve heard a chorus of voices — from your mother to your neighbor to the person who cuts your hair — warning that you better get a mean “junkyard dog” lawyer. I don’t like being a junkyard dog lawyer, and I don’t think it would be in your best interest for me to be, but I have to give you the impression early on that I am so you will hire me. I don’t like doing it, but you demand it, so I do it.

That means that when we met in our first consultation, I talked about how experienced I am. I gave you an optimistic assessment of what you would give up and what you would get working with me. If your spouse had come the same day instead of you and presented the very same facts, I would have given your spouse an equally optimistic assessment from their perspective. I learned long ago not to lose any sleep about doing this. You demand it, and I’m going to give it to you so you will hire me.

You can see what happened now, can’t you? I gave you an optimistic assessment of your case from your perspective, then one of my colleagues gave your spouse an optimistic assessment of the case from your spouse’s perspective. Together, we worked knowingly or unknowingly  to convince both of you that the other is being unreasonable and that you each needed us to win you a better deal.

I told you in our initial consultation that you should avoid communicating directly with your spouse about anything other than parenting of your children. I did this because nothing is so important to me as client control. I want to be the gatekeeper of all communications between you and your spouse, so I can decide how much information to provide to you and what “spin” to put on it. This will make you and your spouse more suspicious of each other, and it will make you more dependent on me. I like that, at least in the early stages of divorce negotiations.

I required you to pay a large retainer when you hired me. I told you that I have a fixed retainer for all divorce clients, or I may have told you that I set your retainer after carefully considering the complexity of your case, the time I expect to put in, and the risk that my estimates might be too low. In reality, though, my technique for setting your retainer was far simpler:  I charged the highest retainer I thought I could get. The reason I did this is that the retainer is often the only money I ever see for representing someone in a divorce case. I may try to bill you and get paid later, but many of my clients don’t pay me anything after the initial retainer, even though they owe me a great deal of money, and I hesitate to sue them for fear they will counterclaim for malpractice and drive up my insurance premiums. The fact that I have so much trouble getting clients like you to pay me what they owe me is another reason my work is so unpleasant for me.

I also will work to appear successful. I may drive a luxury car and maintain a sumptuous office, because I want you and my colleagues — especially my colleagues — to believe that I am earning lots of money. In one sense, I am earning lots of money. I charge a high hourly rate, and I have a great deal of business, so I have high billings. I also have a high overhead, however, and I have trouble getting paid. In reality, I have financial struggles just like you do.

There’s more than a 93% chance that your case will settle before trial. Nevertheless, I will prepare your case as if you were going to trial. This will be wasteful and expensive. I will conduct lengthy discovery, including interrogatories, requests for the production of documents, and depositions, charging you a great deal of money to prepare documents that I simply have printed from my word processor with minor changes.

I will do this not because it’s in your best interest but because I’m afraid of being embarrassed in front of other lawyers and judges and because I’m afraid you will sue me. The result is that you and/or your spouse will spend a great deal of money preparing for a trial we know will almost certainly not occur. I’ve heard that much of this could be avoided by simply exchanging documents and affidavits, but that’s not what I’m used to doing. If there’s a better way, I don’t know it, and even if I knew it, I probably wouldn’t do it. The way I practice law is what I know and understand, and it’s safe for me.

I live my professional life in and around the courthouse. I gauge my schedule and my priorities to make sure cases that have an imminent court date are ready to present. This means that if your case doesn’t have an imminent court date, it will be hard to get me to focus much attention on it. Your case will move much more slowly than you would like.

When we are at the courthouse, there will be huge blocks of time when I will leave you alone while I negotiate or just swap stories with your spouse’s lawyer. Every now and then, I’ll report back to you on progress and tell you how negotiations are going. You probably will find it jarring that I’m so friendly with your spouse’s lawyer. Remember, you and I have a temporary relationship.Your spouse’s lawyer and I have seen each other several times a week for years, and our relationship will continue long after you’re gone from my life. It’s not surprising, then, that I’m more attentive to that relationship than I am to the one with you.

Early on in our relationship, you are in emotional distress, you believe that no one in the world has ever faced the problems you are facing, and you view me as a savior who can protect you from all the cruel insults you are facing. Over time, however, you will  begin to stabilize emotionally, you will begin to view me and my services more realistically, and you will begin to realize just how expensive all this is becoming. You may begin to resent me, and you may place a lower priority on paying my fee. You will also begin to hold me accountable for producing results that I know are unrealistic.

Although at the outset I stated an optimistic assessment of your case, over the term of our relationship I will become increasingly pessimistic with you about your chances. I will do this because, by then, I will become tired of you and tired of your case. I will want you to become more flexible in negotiations so I can reach an agreement with your spouse and your spouse’s lawyer. By then, I will have spent enough time on your case to justify keeping all the retainer, and I will be afraid that I may never see any more money, so I will press you to reach agreement with your spouse.

Also, as our relationship continues, I will be increasingly harder to reach. I may fail to return your phone calls, or I may call you back but be evasive about giving you useful information, always seeming in a hurry. I will do this perhaps without even realizing I’m doing so, primarily because it will be unpleasant for me to deal with you when you become increasingly unhappy.

Often an agreement will happen because you and your spouse meet over the kitchen table or on the phone and work it out, then communicate it to your respective lawyers. This agreement may be remarkably similar to what the two of you could have agreed had you been willing to cooperate with each other at the beginning through mediation or negotiations, but you won’t think about that by then, because to do so would be to admit to yourself that you’ve wasted several thousand dollars on legal fees. Even though I told you at the outset not to talk to your spouse, I will by then be secretly glad that you did and will work to help your agreement succeed (if I can avoid spending much time on it). Remember, by then, I will want out.

I have learned that most of my business comes by referral from other professionals, so it’s more important to me that referral sources feel good about me than that clients feel good about me. I devote lots of attention to my relationships with judges, other lawyers, and other professionals. On the other hand, I have over the years become quite comfortable with unhappy clients, even clients who complain about me to the bar association. This bothered me in my early years of practice, but I’ve become jaded to it now. The bar association knows as I do that clients of divorce lawyers are often unhappy. I know the bar association is accustomed to receiving these complaints and taking them with several grains of salt, so it doesn’t worry me much that you might complain about me.

I like you, and I’m a caring professional who wants to do a good job for you. I’ve learned not to trust you, though. I wish I could trust you, but I’ve been burned too many times by clients like you. I’m going to keep my guard up. Now that you know the way this works, let’s get started.

Sincerely yours,

Your Divorce Lawyer

The original article appeared in www.divorceinfo.com and can be found here.

How To Keep Your Divorce Lawyer Honest | Santa Clarita

How To Keep Your Divorce Lawyer Honest | Santa Clarita

Always on the hunt for good fodder for my blog, I came across an article written by a lawyer about lawyers.

The article was titled, “9 Questions To Keep Your Divorce Lawyer Honest” and I thought would be a good read for my readers here at home in Santa Clarita and the Los Angeles area.

We all know that it can be in a divorce attorneys best interest to tell you that they will win your case at all odds.  There are more attorneys than you can shake a stick at and they know it.  So when it comes to who you are going to hire to represent you, of course they know you want to hear words of optimism.

So knowing up front that you will probably not be fed bad news during your divorce consultation, this article referenced 9 questions you can ask your divorce attorney to keep them honest.

If you want to be an informed client you are going to have to ask the hard questions.  So here they go.

  1. What is my best case scenario in my divorce case?
  2. What is my worst case scenario in this divorce case?
  3. What’s an optimistic, but realistic outcome?
  4. What would the outcome be if your were pessimistic?
  5. What would you tell my spouse after what you have heard today?
  6. What is the reality of my case?  Forget about all the case law…
  7. Is it worth it to spend the money to defend my rights?  How much do I have to gain/lose?
  8. Given your experience, what is the range of cost to represent me?
  9. Will you put your promise in writing.

We are a licensed and bonded legal document preparation firm specializing in providing affordable divorce legal services.  For more information about our services please give us a call.

 

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post where you can read the original article.

Raoul Felder King of Divorce Video | Santa Clarita

Raoul Felder King of Divorce Video | Santa Clarita

I thought it was appropriate to share this video of Raoul Felder who is a celebrity divorce lawyer and who just wrote a new memoir called “Reflections in a mirror: Of Love,  Loss, Death and Divorce.

Appropriate because we were just discussing the costs of divorce in a previous post.  He states that he likes representing the stars because they represent big divorce fees. He goes on to say how he charges $600 per hour and up to represent his divorce clients.

He says that “trouble is his business” has represented the divorce of Rudy Giuliani and has been accused by others of not playing fair and vilifying the other party to divorce.

Known as the “King of Divorce”, he has been married for 49 years and his wife is also a divorce attorney that works with him.

Even he says that it is better to settle in divorce.

 

Uncontested Divorce In Santa Clarita

Uncontested Divorce In Santa Clarita

The definition of an uncontested divorce is when both parties are in agreement to the terms of the divorce and have been able to come to those terms without the need for a trial and without the need for the judge to make orders. A divorce case can be considered uncontested in three ways.

  1. Your spouse did not file a response and you do not have an agreement.  This is referred to as a true default case.
  2. Your spouse did not file a response and you have an agreement.  This is referred to as a hybrid judgement.
  3. Your spouse did file a Response and you have an agreement.  This is referred to as an uncontested judgment.

If your divorce case proceeded by any of the above means, your divorce case is considered to be uncontested. An uncontested divorce case does not mean that you will not have some disagreements with your spouse.  It just means that at the end of the day you were able to come to an agreement outside of court. It is best that you spend as much time at the kitchen table trying to hash out whatever remaining issues you have before throwing in the towel and allowing a judge to make a decision on the matter. It will probably feel like you are giving more than you are getting when trying to get through the issues related to your divorce.  Any time spent trying to figure things out on your own will be time well spent because the only other way to settle it is to have a judge make decisions about your family. We specialize in preparing uncontested divorce cases.  We can help you get through the divorce process for one flat rate.  Please give us a call for more information about our divorce document preparation service.

How Much Does Divorce Cost | Santa Clarita

How Much Does Divorce Cost | Santa Clarita

When I receive a call from a prospective client, one of the questions I ask is, “why did you chose to use a legal document assistant like me instead of hiring an attorney?”  The answer is always because of the cost of hiring an attorney is so outrageous.

Many of my clients first sought out an attorney.  After having paid $300 to $500 just for the consultation, they learn that just to retain the law firm they are looking at $5,000 just to get started.

So this leads us to the point of this article which is, “how much does divorce cost?”

I did a little research online to see what I could find as far as what other people estimate the cost of getting divorced to be.  Having worked at a law firms for some time, I will also advise you what I saw in the form of costs for divorce.

I found several articles about how much a divorce costs and it seems there that most people estimate the cost to be around $20,000.  In a recent article by Rachel Small called, “6 Ways to Minimize Hourly Attorney Fees When Getting Divorced” indicates that the average cost of getting divorced in the United States is approximately $15,000 with attorney’s fees that range but can be as high as $500 per hour.

Some sites estimated divorce costs to range from $53,000 on the low end to $188,000 on the high end for divorce.

No doubt it is expensive to get divorced.

When I worked for a law firm it was customary to pay $5,000 just for the initial retainer.  The retainer was billed against at the hourly rates until it was extinguished.  After that, the client was responsible for the the new charge each month for the continued representation.  And I will tell you that $5,000 goes really fast when you are being billed $500 per hour.

At that rate you are only getting 10 hours of work done toward your divorce case.

When faced with the need of going through a divorce, it is important to weigh the costs of hiring an attorney vs. using an alternative service such as a licensed and bonded legal document assistant such as us.

For some, it will be a simple question of whether or not you can afford an attorney.  The real questions is, “do you really need an attorney in the first place?”

We are a licensed and bonded legal document preparation service that specializes in the divorce process.  We offer an affordable divorce solution at fixed prices.  Please give us a call for more information.

Gormon Divorce Legal Service

Gormon Divorce Legal Service

If you are looking for an affordable way to get through the divorce process in Gormon, CA, you have come to the right spot.

Watch the below video for more information about our Gormon Divorce Legal Service.

How Do I Prepare Uncontested Divorce Judgment | Santa Clarita

How Do I Prepare Uncontested Divorce Judgment | Santa Clarita

An uncontested divorce is one where both parties enter into a written agreement regarding the terms of the divorce. An uncontested divorce can happen whether or not the other party filed a response or not. Watch this video for more information about how to prepare an uncontested divorce judgment. When you are preparing the final divorce papers, known as the judgment, many of the forms will be the same, however there will be several forms that will be different depending on whether you are filing a uncontested divorce judgment, hybrid divorce judgment, contested divorce judgment or true default divorce judgement. We cover each of the different types of divorce judgments in separate posts, so make sure to look for them on this site. If you have represented yourself during the divorce process, you have got pretty far in the process.  Unfortunately, now comes the really hard part.  Folks that represent themselves usually run into problems at this stage of the game. Essentially, this comes down to the fact that there are so many forms and attachments that have to be included in the divorce judgment.  Additionally, up to this point, no one at the court has ever reviewed any of your documents.  You will not know if you completed the divorce forms incorrectly until you submit your judgment paperwork. If you have your judgment paperwork rejected you are looking at at least 2-3 more months before your divorce can be finalized.  And if you do it incorrectly enough times, the judge will set a hearing and make you appear in court so they can get it done right. We are a licensed and bonded legal document preparation service that specializes in the divorce process.  For more information about our affordable flat rate divorce service, please give us a call.

How Do I Prepare True Default Divorce Judgment | Santa Clarita

How Do I Prepare True Default Divorce Judgment | Santa Clarita

What forms are necessary to prepare your final divorce judgement paperwork depends upon how you proceeded up to this point.

The true default divorce judgment would be filed under the following circumstances.

  1. Your spouse did not file a response &
  2. There is no written agreement between the parties.

Watch this video for an explanation of the forms necessary to file a true default divorce judgment.

Remember, that you cannot file the default until at least 30 days have passed since you served the initial divorce paperwork.  You can file the default along with the remainder of the divorce paperwork if you wish.

We have provided a checklist of what forms are necessary to file the true default divorce judgment.  We use the checklist to mark of the documents just to make sure we have included all the correct documents.  We also submit the judgment checklist to the court when we submit the judgment.  This accomplished two things. First, it lets the courts know that we have used their checklist and understand the process.  Second, each of the checklists indicate what type of divorce judgment we are submitting, therefore it gives the court a heads up about what forms to be looking for.

The paperwork you submit for the true default is different than that of the uncontested hybrid divorce judgments and contested divorce judgments.

There are a lot of forms that need to be submitted when completing your divorce judgment.  We don’t recommend attempting it on your own. We have spoke to folks who have submitted their judgment 6 times and still get them rejected.

Please give us a call to discuss having us professionally prepare your entire divorce so you don’t have to try and figure out all the confusing divorce forms.  We have helped hundreds of clients get through the divorce process.

We are a licensed and bonded legal document preparation service that specializes in divorce.