Time is Money: How much will this cost and how long will it take?
Perhaps the two most frequent questions that clients ask of their attorneys are “how much will this cost?” and “how long will this take?” Unfortunately, the answer to both questions is often the classic lawyer answer: “It depends.”
The unpredictable nature of domestic court proceedings can make even seemingly simple and straightforward cases drag on for months. Attorney’s fees for divorces, allocation of parental responsibilities, and post-decree disputes can range anywhere from a few hundred to many thousands of dollars. The type of proceeding, the complexity of the issues, and the contentiousness versus reasonableness of the parties will all factor in to the final cost for legal fees. For these reasons, Woody Law Firm is unable to provide clients an “estimate” of the total costs.
If you decide to retain our firm, we will require that you sign an engagement agreement. This engagement agreement is a contract with our clients as to the terms and conditions of legal representation. Along with a signed engagement agreement, we require all clients to post a retainer that will be used to pay fees and costs associated with the case. Depending on the case and type of representation (traditional vs. limited), the retainer amount will generally range between $500 and $7,000, to be determined at the initial consultation with an attorney. The retainer is not an estimate of costs. Rather, we bill our hourly rates against the retainer until it is depleted, at which point, we require the retainer to be replenished if the client wishes for representation to continue.
At Woody Law Firm, we take pride in our ability to provide cost-effective legal services. We use a team-based approach, ensuring that the entire firm is familiar with your case and able to assist you. We utilize our support staff to complete certain tasks associated with your case at a lower hourly rate than our attorneys’. Additionally, we will provide you with a monthly invoice showing the exact breakdown of the work performed and costs incurred, as well as the remaining balance in your retainer, if any.
Similar to costs, the unpredictable nature of court proceedings can make estimates of time nearly impossible. Family law matters in particular are often emotionally charged and psychologically draining. Each individual responds differently to the stress and pressures of a divorce or parenting time dispute. What might have originally seemed like a non-contested issue could result in months of litigation due to emotional triggers of either or both parties.
Despite this unpredictability, there are a few certain guideposts for time that each case will follow. A family law matter will typically begin with one of the two parties filing a petition with the court or the parties filing a co-petition. After the petition is filed, the parties will have an Initial Status Conference with the court, generally scheduled within 42 days. In addition to this initial conference, the parties will begin preparing their financial disclosures. Financial disclosures can often be one of the more time-consuming and expensive part of the case, next to discovery and trial. After the parties have fulfilled their initial requirements as set by the court’s Case Management Order and the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, they can then request a hearing date. Depending on the jurisdiction and the available time slots on a court’s docket, a hearing date will likely be set for somewhere between two to eight months from the Initial Status Conference. The absolute soonest parties can obtain a divorce in Colorado is 91 days from the date of service of the Petition and Summons on the other party. However, divorces are rarely completed so quickly without excellent communication and cooperation between parties and their attorneys. If the parties are able to reach a settlement, a contested hearing will be unnecessary and often parties can have their matter resolved without ever having to return to the courthouse.
Call Woody Law Firm today to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with one of our attorneys. We can provide you with an analysis of your case, overview of the legal process and the law in Colorado as it relates to your family law matter, as well as provide further guidance regarding our fees, the time frame for your case, and your goals and expectations.