I offer flat “fixed” rate plans for uncontested marital dissolutions as an economical alternative to paying an hourly rate. If the case qualifies, the flat rate plan fixes the legal fees at a predetermined rate. The advantage to the client is predictability and cost control. The advantage to me is reduced administration time and frankly, gives me a break from acrimonious litigation. The flat rate plans are broken down by legal fees and costs here.
The Uncontested Case: The truly uncontested case is one where both spouses agree to everything – nothing needs to be negotiated or litigated.
Representation of One Party Only: I will not meet with both spouses. I only represent one spouse and one spouse only. The spouse that I do not represent is always advised to seek his/her own attorney to review the paperwork and provide legal advice. If the other spouse chooses not to seek independent legal advice, then I require him/her to sign a waiver to that effect.
Hiring an Attorney versus a Paralegal: There are a number of paralegal services who provide a typing service to put together your documents. I have nothing against paralegals making a living – I was once a paralegal myself! However, paralegals cannot give legal advice and they cannot give an individual an opinion one way or the other as to whether or not the decisions being made are the right decisions. An attorney who practices family law has extensive knowledge of the statutes pertinent to family law as well as the case law interpreting those statues.
If the Case Becomes Contested: If either party files a motion, if the other spouse refuses to sign the documents, or if either spouse backs out of their agreement prior to signing the documents, then the case is contested. At that point the client may take the option of re-hiring me on an hourly basis. If the client does not wish to hire me on an hourly basis, then I will withdraw from the case.
If the Client Terminates My Services Prior to Completing the Work: The flat fee payment constituting the “legal fees” immediately becomes my property and is not placed in my trust account. However, the fact that the flat fee is paid in advance does not affect the client’s right to terminate my services. In the event my services are terminated before the agreed upon services are completed, the client may or may not have the right to a refund to a portion of the fee.