Warning: If you live in California and are considering a divorce. First consider your spouse and the divorce attorney your spouse might be willing to hire. Then toss out everything you ever saw on television or in the movies because this is how our family courts actually operate.
What to Know Before You End Up in Family Court:
RETAINERS Divorce Attorney will ask anywhere from $5-50,0o0 for a retainer to start your divorce. You will be offered what is known as a " retainer" agreement. Some clients may want to consult with a family law attorney just to make sure they are protected in the event a divorce is actually filed. Ask if your lawyer carries malpractice insurance. If your lawyer messes up , you may only have one year to make a claim. Lawyers often try to slip in arbitration agreements for potential disputes. Typically such agreements are for the benefit of the lawyer because it keeps your claim out of public court, where others could see what the lawyer did to mess up. Before you sign any retainer agreement you should ask a lawyer for references. Find out if other clients were represented as you would want to be represented. Find out how much the case cost and how long it took and talk to at least three people, One your lawyer gives as a refence and others you can find from the public courthouse where your lawyer's cases would be listed in a docket search.
Most lawyers fail to tell you what a divorce will actually cost. People who have never had to file for a divorce have no idea what to expect in fees. First timers will be startled by legal bills and costs that lawyers can charge as your divorce continues to linger through the courts. Good lawyers will find out what needs to be done and work to avoid court. Ethical lawyers for both spouses should be able to get a divorce done in 6months to a year. If the lawyer you hire has a track record of taking cases to court over settling, you can expect to spend 5- 8 years dragging through the clogged courts , and 10-12 years if you have to file an appeal. All it takes is one spouse willing to pay a lawyer to abuse the other spouse, and a California divorce case can go from a $10,000 retainer to over $1 million dollars in fees and costs.
Perhaps the most insidious aspect of our modern courts are the judges who appoint so called experts to explain how you should raise your children, manage your life and spend your money. The costs for lawyers can be court ordered and garnished from your wages or bank accounts. Child support can be more rigged than one might imagine as Department of Child Support Services in most counties are underfunded. Jane and John Q Public share their experiences here on this website to provide important information to help better anticipate what a divorce or custody case might end up costing your family. CHIDLREN: TO MARRY OR NOT TO MARRY As more and more couples decide to raise children absent a formal legal marriage, most parents have no idea what awaits them in family court and marital status matters more than you might think. In California divorcing parents have their custody and child support matters placed in public view. Open courtrooms and files any member of the public can view. if parents are not married, cases are confidential and a judge may close the courtroom and it is actually unlawful to share the court files. Except of course with your lawyer. This poses a host of issues for parents who opted out of the wedding day. We cover this issues in our posts with the hope of helping families with children navigate what has become a deeply corrupt and flawed legal system.
LEGAL ADVICE: We do not, and cannot give legal advice. In California, if someone gives legal advice without a license, that's called the unauthorized practice of law (UPL). UPL is prohibited by Business and Professions Code § 6126. UPL is a misdemeanor crime. Legal advice refers to written or oral counsel about a legal matter that would affect the rights and responsibilities of the person receiving the advice. In California, only attorneys can give legal advice (B&P § 6125). Like a county law library, we occasionally guide readers to appropriate legal materials, or groups with similar interests and needs, or we may point individuals to members of the media. Content on this site is intended to assist and connect members and the media and to provide information to assist members and media in conducting their own legal research and investigations related to CPS, Family Court, divorce , custody and probate issues.
Content on this website comes from interviews, whistleblowers and court watchers in family courts across California. We are working on bringing on PA, Texas, CT and other states. Until coverage in other states is in place, please make comments and connect on social media.