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California Divorce Lawyer

Date Added: May 14, 2008 12:23:27 PM
Author: Stacy Fox
Category: California: Family Law
Where do I find a Divorce Lawyer?

She served you with papers, that’s when you knew you’d need a Divorce Lawyer. Where do you go to find a Divorce Lawyer - certainly not the yellow pages! The best way to find a Divorce Lawyer is through a referral. 
If you have or who have had Family Law matters, they can give you a referral to a Divorce Lawyer. But, not everyone has a personal reference. That’s when a good Referral Service comes in handy. 

The best Referral Services are the county Bar Associations. The lawyers listed with them are members in good standing in the community. Additionally, all Divorce Lawyers listed with them must have malpractice insurance. Generally there is a fee, usually about $35.00, to have a half-hour consultation with the attorney. Then, you and the can come to an agreement on the price for the rest of your case. 

The internet has several referral sources for Divorce Lawyers including Legalmatch.com, Getareferral.com, and www.lawyers.com. Again, you will pay a small fee for the initial consultation and out the financial details for the rest of your case. 

What Should I Ask at the Initial Consultation? 
The first thing you should find out is how much experience your Divorce Lawyer has in cases like yours. In California, experienced practitioners qualify to sit for a complex, multi-day test called the Family Law Specialization Exam. If they pass, they can call themselves “Certified Family Law Specialists.” If you have a complex case where there are significant property issues, pensions, or contentious matters, you will want a Certified Family Law Specialist. 

Another thing you’ll want to find out is how much your Divorce Lawyer charges. Your will probably quote you a fee in the range of $2,500 to $5,000. Don’t believe that the fee you are asked for in will cover the entire case. Attorneys on an hourly basis. They charge between $150 to $300 per hour and their assistants will charge from $75 to $150 per hour. 

Ask what their minimum billing increment is. Many will say that it is a quarter of an hour. Negotiate it down to one-tenth of an hour. The difference can be huge in terms of savings. If your Divorce Lawyer is charging $200 per hour at quarter hour increments, a 5-minute call will you $50. At one-tenth of an hour increments, it will only you $20. 

Ask how you can keep your bill down. For instance, your Divorce Lawyer should tell you to keep your calls to a minimum and to try to things out with your soon-to-be ex-spouse as much as possible. Some costs, however, are unavoidable. You have relatively little control over how much time is spent at a Mandatory Settlement Conference, for instance. 

How Will My Case Proceed?

There’s basically three parts to the process. The first is exchanging information. Your Divorce Lawyer will collect information from you about your assets, debts, income, and preferences for custody. 

There may need to be orders about who is going to move out of the house, who gets of the kids, and who pays support. Your Divorce Lawyer can you through this, but in many counties you will have to attend Mediation alone. It’s just you, your spouse, and a mediator, who usually has a Master’s degree in Counseling. Optimally, in your one-hour session, you will out a visitation plan that suits both parents. Usually, though, the mediator will make a recommendation. In many cases, this recommendation becomes the final order, so it isn’t good to make the mediator angry. 

Sometimes your Divorce Lawyer will have an in-office conference to settle the property matters. This is like mediation, but there is not an outside agent who is supposedly neutral. 

If things can’t be resolved at the mediation level, the final stage becomes necessary. That’s the trial. Your Divorce Lawyer will put on a case, call witnesses, and make an argument to a Judge. Juries do not decide Family Law cases. 

Is it Over Yet?

Unlike most cases, Family Law disputes are not over when the Judge pounds down the gavel. If there are children, you will still have contact with your ex until the youngest one graduates from high school. If there is a Pension involved, you may still be dealing with your Ex in old age as retirement checks are split between you. Keep your attorney’s phone number on the rolodex - You very well may need your California Divorce Lawyer again!
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