Keep Your Account Current with Your Divorce Attorney

Legal representation is not something you are entitled to. It is a service You must pay for, just as you pay for food, clothing, utilities, and car repairs. You would not expect a towing service to tow your car for free if you broke down on the highway but couldn’t afford to be towed. Nor should you expect your attorney to represent you for free just because you are in a messy divorce and can’t afford to pay.

Don’t be lulled into thinking that you can let your unpaid legal bills pile up simply because your lawyer says nothing about them. It could be that your lawyer doesn’t have the time or energy to confront you about your bills. Most likely what will happen is that no one will say anything about the unpaid bills, but at the same time your attorney will do lackluster work or put your case on the back burner until you get caught up on your payments. Your attorney may begin to resent you for being so inconsiderate when he or she is putting in so much effort on your behalf. Even though you may not be confronted directly about late payments, the quality of your representation may suffer as a result.

Some attorneys believe that a client who does not have the cash and is not willing to take out a loan to pay the retainer is not worthy of their representation. The rationale for this attitude is this: if you would take out a loan for a car or a house, why not something as important as a divorce? If you consider your divorce or custody fight less significant than a car, some lawyers will perceive you as not being serious enough about the litigation to be a cooperative client. They will realize that their bills will be at the bottom of your pile.

Attorneys don’t want to wait to be paid any more than you want to wait to have your phone calls returned. Your attitude about your legal bills is extremely important. Show that you understand the value of your lawyer’s time, and he or she will find it easier to respond to your legal needs.



   
 
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KEEP AN EYE ON COSTS – The cost of a litigated divorce – one that goes to court – can be eye popping, and divorce, it should be remembered, makes more people poor than it makes any rich. When a divorce seems headed for trial, most lawyers prefer to work with a retainer agreement, which is the upfront payment. Typically, the total number of hours multiplied by the hourly rate is the lawyer’s fee.
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