Q How much are initial consultations?
Initial consultations are charged at the hourly rate of the attorney with whom you have an appointment. Rates of the attorneys in the firm vary, so the cost depends on the rate of the attorney. Charges for initial consultations are due and payable at the conclusion of the conference.
Q My spouse and I have reached an agreement and want someone to prepare it. Can you represent me and my spouse for this purpose?
No. Under no circumstances may we, ethically, represent both parties.
Q Once I have had an initial consultation with an attorney in the firm, does the firm represent me?
No. You must sign a representation agreement and pay a deposit, commonly referred to as “retainer,” to our firm to retain our services as your attorney.
Q How much is a normal retainer?
There is no “normal” retainer or deposit. The amount of a retainer varies with each case and it depends on the issues, nature, and circumstances involved. For example, a simple divorce will require a smaller security deposit than one which involves custody issues, support issues, and asset distribution. The consulting attorney will discuss the amount with you at the end of the consultation after being fully apprised of the issues in your case.
The retainer fee is kept in a client trust account until it is earned by Kales & Kales, PLC. If, when representation ends, there is a balance remaining, it will be refunded to you.
Q If I retain the firm to represent me, how are cases billed?
Cases are billed in increments of one-tenths of an hour at the rate of the attorney, paralegal, or law clerk working on your case at any given time. This is done in accordance with a detailed written contract for services referred to as the representation agreement.
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COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE FAQs
Q Why is the Collaborative Process so effective in facilitating divorce settlements?
The Collaborative Process is extremely effective at reaching settlements because it puts two lawyers in the same room pulling in the same direction to solve the same list of problems, not pulling in opposite directions, like in litigation.
Q How do other Collaboratively trained professionals contribute to the process?
FINANCIAL PROFESSIONALS can be a life saver in Collaborative Divorce cases, since they function as neutrals and have no vested interest beyond providing information, overview and options to the spouses. They can assist with gathering and organizing documents, educating the clients regarding the short and long term effects of a settlement plan, and providing practical planning, guidance and support to the divorce process.
MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS can be employed in a number of roles during the collaborative process. They can serve as divorce coaches to help spouses communicate more effectively with one another during the meetings. Since they are adept at picking-up the less obvious psychological issues that can undermine effective communication and resolution of differences, they can keep counsel apprised of problem areas in the marriage relationship or with a minor child. Mental health professionals can also serve as child specialists, meeting with the children, exploring their reactions to the family break-up and serving as a voice for the child. Finally, they can assist in crafting a parenting plan which best fosters the children’s developmental needs.
Q What is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative Divorce is a process for resolving divorce cases, without the use of litigation. No one may go to court, or even threaten to do so. It allows spouses to survive divorce, stay sane, and keep their futures intact.
Both spouses retain separate, specially-trained lawyers whose only job is to help them to settle the issues in their divorce. All participants agree to work together, respectfully, honestly, and in good faith, voluntarily and freely exchanging information, to find mutually acceptable solutions to the legitimate needs of both spouses.
Most often, Collaborative Divorce costs less, financially and emotionally, and takes less time than a litigated case.
Q My friend’s traditional divorce lawyer says they settle most of their cases. How is a divorce settlement reached via the Collaborative Process different from one reached in part of a court case?
Most litigated divorces settle figuratively, if not literally, “on the courthouse steps,” under conditions of considerable tension and anxiety. By that time, each spouse has spent a large amount of money on a process that causes a significant emotional damage. Often, such a “settlement” leads to resentment of its terms and demands, and towards all participants in the litigation process.
Collaborative settlement negotiations are quicker, more creative, enduring and individualized, far less stressful, and more satisfying than what occurs in litigation. Clients’ experiences in the Collaborative Process are worlds away from the experiences of their friends and acquaintances who have taken their divorces to the courts.
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Q What is mediation?
Mediation is a private, confidential, cooperative dispute resolution process in which the mediator, an impartial trained professional neutral, helps the spouses to negotiate a mutually acceptable divorce settlement. The process emphasizes open communication, an honest exchange of information, and respect.
Q How does mediation benefit divorcing couples?
Mediation empowers divorcing couples to create their own settlements, settlements which typically have a much higher satisfaction rate than those reached in litigated cases.
Q How long does mediation take?
As a general rule, mediation of a full, comprehensive divorce averages from 2 to 5 sessions. Some people take less time and some take more time, depending on the complexity and number of issues, and the ease with which the spouses adapt to the process. Each session typically lasts two to three hours.
Q I think I might need an attorney at some point; do I give up the right to have an attorney if I participate in mediation?
No, not at all. You may want to establish a relationship with an attorney who will be able to serve as your legal consultant at various times during the process. At the least, though, both spouses are strongly advised to have attorneys for the process of reviewing the settlement agreement.