We do a range of family law work, including motions for modification of support and/or custody. However, divorces make up the bulk of our work in this area. We make every effort to complete them in as economical and non-adversarial a manner as possible. Often, we can do a relatively uncontested divorce for a legal fee of about $1,000 (in addition to the initial consultation and filing fee) by having much of the voluminous paperwork done by a legal secretary or paralegal (under the supervision of an attorney). Even if the divorce turns out to be contentious and litigious, our low hourly rates for attorneys ($280 per hour) and use of paralegals ($100 per hour) often result in fees a fraction of the typical $5,000 initially retained by most divorce attorneys (who then too often over-litigate the case at inflated hourly rates).
WE KEEP YOUR LEGAL FEES LOW BY:
- Offering to have you buy a self-help "do-it-yourself" divorce book from Nolo Press, available in our offices, which has all the information, forms, and even a CD-ROM.
- Offering to have you represent yourself on the forms, if you wish, even though we would still prepare all the paperwork for you in your own name, which often results in a less confrontational response than if our attorney's name is the attorney of record.
- We mail the filed Summons and Petition to your spouse, accompanied by a cover letter from our secretary, in the least intimidating manner possible. "Your spouse has asked us to assist him/her with your divorce paperwork. Enclosed please find...", which is a much more civilized way than the standard approach of having them personally served, and saves the cost of a process server.
- After the Petition and Response have been filed, both parties need to fill out financial documents, which do not become part of the public file but need to be sent to the other party an Income and Expense Declaration and a Schedule of Assets and Debts. We will type up your hand-written draft for you; then, in comparing both parties' forms, we can determine what the community property is and begin to negotiate how it should be divided.
- We then prepare a Marital Settlement Agreement (or, in very simple cases, a Stipulated Judgment), which is an often lengthy, legalese-filled document that contains agreements regarding support, custody, visitation, buy-out provisions for the family home, divisions of other assets, etc.
- 6. Finally, we prepare and submit the final Judgment documents, including the: Judgment; Notice of Entry of Judgment; Appearance, Stipulation and Waivers; and usually one or two other simple forms that enable you to avoid a court appearance altogether. Your divorce can be finalized by the court as early as six months from the date of service of the Summons and Petition.
We strive to keep, and are proud of our success in keeping, what is always a difficult situation at best, from being any worse than it has to be. You shouldn't have to end up any angrier at your spouse or at the attorneys as a result of the divorce process and paperwork. At Marin Law Center, you will keep both your costs and your blood pressure down.