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Legal Issues
General Information.
The initial consultation.
Retaining a lawyer.
How Lawyers Charge for their time.
How you can keep your fee as low as possible.
Payment and financing.
The bottom-line.

General Information
Most people going through a divorce or a separation are concerned about legal costs. In many cases, their concern is justified, because Family Law litigation can be very expensive.

But browsing our web site for helpful information costs nothing. So relax, take your time and get out a notepad. We've tried to give you a general overview of the things you might need to know. And if you can't find the answer to your questions here, write it down for when you are ready to talk to a lawyer.

But remember; this web site does not give you legal advice. Only a lawyer can do that after meeting with you and reviewing your particular circumstances. (Back to top)

The initial consultation.
Some lawyers offer a free initial consultation. Others charge a fee, which can be applied to your retainer when you hire them. It costs you nothing to pick up the phone and ask the lawyer what his/her policy is regarding a consultation fee. (Back to top)

Retaining a lawyer.
When accepting a case, most family lawyers will ask for a deposit to be applied towards the anticipated costs of the case. This deposit is referred to as a "retainer".

How much your lawyer charges will depend upon his/her reputation, experience, the complexity of the case and the amount of time it will take to conclude. Once you have met with, and hired a lawyer, you can expect him/her to provide you with a retainer letter, which is the written confirmation of your fee arrangement. (Back to top)

How lawyers charge for their time.
Lawyers generally charge their clients using one of two methods.

  1. A fixed, or block fee arrangement, or
  2. An hourly rate.

You may find that a lawyer has a fixed fee for certain items, for instance, to draft a standard form agreement which he/she knows is likely to take a certain amount of time.

Family Law lawyers normally charge an hourly rate, simply because it is to difficult to estimate how much time will be required to complete a task (for example, it is difficult to know how long it will take to negotiate an agreement). (Back to top)

How you can keep your fee as low as possible.
You can affect how much you will be charged by taking some simple steps, which can cut hours (and hundreds, or even thousands of dollars) off of your legal bill.

  • Be prepared before you call or meet with your lawyer. Write out the questions you intend to ask. When you have asked a question make sure you are paying attention to the answer and write it down. Try to put your emotions aside. Many people get very wound up when they are talking about their family issues and aren't listening when they should be. If your lawyer is charging you by the hour, each time he/she has to explain something to you the meter is on. Time is money.
  • Get organized before you see your lawyer. If your lawyer has asked you to provide him/her with paperwork, make sure that you put it in order before you take it in. Sort it out, and put it in a binder. It's also best if you can provide your lawyer with a detailed written description saying what the paperwork is and how it applies to your case. You don't want your lawyer to have to sort through paperwork and then have to call you to find out what it is about. All of this takes time and, once again, the lawyer will bill you for it.
  • Stay focused on what you are trying to achieve. Family Law matters can be very emotional. Clients sometimes want to talk about things, which are incidental to what the lawyer can help them with. You want to be paying the lawyer for his/her legal expertise.
  • Listen to your lawyer. Both to his/her questions, and to the advice they offer. When they ask you a question try to stay focused on the answer to that question only. Every detour you take from that answer to his/her question will take away from where the lawyer is trying to get to. You want to help your lawyer to stay on track.
  • If there are things you think your lawyer really needs to know, make a list of them so that you don't forget to bring them up at some point when you meet. This will allow you to focus on the things that your lawyer wants to talk to you about without worrying that you will forget about things you want to tell him/her about.

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Payment and financing.
For some people, having to hire a lawyer is an unexpected expense. If you are not in the financial position to pay the entire fee in full, most lawyers will arrange a payment plan, which will permit you to pay your fees over a period of time.

Major credit cards and Interac payments are also accepted by most of our lawyers. Please inquire if you wish to make a payment using one of these methods. (Back to top)

The bottom-line.
While legal fees might seem expensive, obtaining competent Family Law advice can actually reduce your overall legal cost by helping you avoid making decisions, which can complicate your case or prejudice your rights. (Back to top)


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