Keep Your Account Current with Your Divorce Attorney
Key Points
  • Lawyers provide you a service, just like a mechanic, doctor, or other professional. There is no reason to stiff your lawyer, you would find a way to pay your mechanic to have your car fixed.
  • Make sure you keep up on paying the bills that come due each month. This way a large bill may not be so overwhelming. If you cannot pay a one-time lump sum then make sure you are communicating with your lawyer to get the fees paid promptly.
  • When you contact a lawyer to represent you, you are paying for his or her time and knowledge. It is disrespectful and unfair to believe just because you may not have the money you that you should stop paying your lawyer’s fees.

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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No one wants to hire a divorce lawyer, but the fact is that millions of men and women go through divorce and custody proceedings every year. Many people believe that any lawyer can and will protect them from the potential nightmare of a domestic lawsuit. In reality, the lawyer can become part of the nightmare instead. You owe it to yourself-and your kids-to hire the best lawyer possible.

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