FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

HOW MUCH WILL MY DIVORCE COST?
This is an “it just depends” answer. Family law lawyers charge by the hour and the average hourly rate is $390.00 to $410.00 in the Bay Area. Complicated property issues and difficult custody issues can increase the cost of a divorce significantly. I like to present my clients with a cost/benefit analysis for which issues worth litigating if agreements are problematic between the two divorcing parties.
WHAT IS A CONTINGENT FEE AGREEMENT?
This type of agreement is used in most types of civil litigation cases, particularly in personal injury matters. The client does not pay anything up front to the attorney, or will just fronts the costs depending on the agreement reached between the attorney and the client. If the case requires that the two sides attend mediation or a trial for resolution, the client pays 40% of the recovery to the attorney. If the case settles before mediation is or a trial the client pays the attorney 33.33% of the recovery. If the client does not recover any damages the attorney does not get paid any fees. So, in other words, the fees are contingent upon whatever recovery is obtained for the client.
DO I NEED A WILL OR A TRUST?

The answer to this question used to be dependent upon tax consequences and how to avoid estate taxes. Since the current limits for each individual are so high, most people don’t need to worry about the tax consequences. 

Now many people want a Trust to avoid filing a probate action in court. Wills are distributed by filing a case and the court oversees the distrubition by the trustees without filing a probate action. 

Other considerations include: the cost, wills are less expensive than trusts to prepare, also its becoming more common to retain attorneys for trust distribution to make sure all of the requirements and procedures are followed. 

CAN I LEAVE SPECIFIC GIFTS TO FAMILY MEMBERS WHEN I DIE?
Yes. Those specific gifts can be included as part of your will and or your trust.
WHAT IS LEGAL CUSTODY?
Legal custody is distinguished from physical custody. Legal custody is the authority given most commonly to both parents to choose schools, doctors, and related needs and interests for your children as opposed to how much time the child(ren) spend with each parent.
IF I MOVE OUT OF STATE CAN I TAKE OUR CHILDREN WITH ME?
If there is no agreement between the parties, this is usually resolved by a trial. A custody evaluation is generally ordered unless the parties are unable to afford it. The cost is generally about $15,000.00. The best interest of the child guides the court in making the decision. Basically, if there is considerable custody time with the other parent, the court will not make an order that jeopardizes the strength of that relationship to allow the other party to move with the child(ren).

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To learn more about our services, feel free to email us or call at (510) 444-1881.

Law Offices of Catherine Haley
1633 San Pablo Avenue
Oakland, CA 94612
Telephone: 510-444-1881
Fax: 510-444-5108

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