Each attorney charges their hourly rate for the initial consultation. Our attorney rates run from $275-$350/hour. Our retainers vary from $3,500-$5,000 (sometimes less for noncontested matters with no children). Each case is different. We work hard to keep costs down while providing top-notch legal representation. We do understand the financial strains often associated with our line of work. We take clients who have CLC Insurance through their employer.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to give an exact figure because each situation is different and costs are affected by factors outside our control. We are ever cognizant of the impact of legal fees on families and work hard to give clients quality work within their financial means.
How long does it take to process a divorce?
The process can range from three to 12 months. A dissolution of marriage has a 90-day waiting period, after service or acceptance of service, before final orders can be entered. The process may, and usually does, take more time depending on the complexity of the issues and the actions of the other party. A legal separation case has no 90-day waiting period, however, once final; it cannot be converted to a divorce until at least six months have passed.
What happens at the consultation?
The initial interview generally lasts one hour. The initial interview has the following purposes:
- How relationship will be terminated (legal separation, invalidity, dissolution)
- Process for termination (mediation, collaborative process, litigation)
- Provisions for dependent children
- Parenting plan
- Child support
- Property division
- Distribution of assets
- Distribution of debt
- Spousal maintenance
- Attorneys’ fees and litigation costs
- Identifying the legal issues and scope of the work
- Finding out the basic facts necessary to determine the legal issues
- Establishing the financial terms of the representation
- Providing initial advice, warnings and counsel
Whenever financial issues are present (child support, maintenance, property), you should bring copies of the following:
- Your (and your spouse’s) most recent pay stub and tax returns (with W-2s) for the last two years
- If you own real estate, bring copies of your deed, mortgage statements, real estate contracts and any other pertinent documents
- Any descriptions of job benefits provided by employers, for both spouses
- Pension, profit sharing and retirement information, including yearly statements showing value of interest in the plan, and a copy of the plan summary
- Life, disability and health insurance policies (policy numbers, name and address of company, cash surrender value, and name of beneficiary)
- Current bank statements, savings passbooks, stock certificates, bonds and savings certificates
- A list of current debts (charge accounts, dental, hospital or doctor bills, furniture payments, etc.). Include what the bill is for and when the last payment was made
- If you own your own business, bring the business income and B&O tax records
- Any written community property agreement you have with your spouse
The issues that need to be resolved include:
What about mediation?
The lawyers in our firm strongly believe that alternative dispute resolution is an effective tool in resolving family law issues. Mediation is a powerful tool that often assists both sides in minimizing the negative impacts of divorce and separation. We are available to guide our clients through mediation and advice regarding other forms of dispute resolution such as collaborative law.
Can both spouses use a single attorney?
No. We can only represent one party in a divorce. However, if your divorce is uncontested, we can assist you by drawing up the necessary documents and the other party can have the proposed final papers reviewed by independent counsel.
Are you aggressive?
Yes and no. Our attorneys believe that civility is the cornerstone of effective litigation. In most cases, litigants seeking an aggressive attorney, especially in family law, are ill-advised to do so. While forceful representation has its place, we believe that clients have a better long-term outcome when matters are resolved outside the courtroom. Sometimes aggressive litigation is the only way to address the issue and we are vigorous and competent litigators when the situation demands. Our experience in the courtroom and with alternative dispute resolution processes allows us to tailor our strategy to the dynamics of each particular case.
When can a child choose where to live?
Washington does not have an age of consent at which children can choose with which parent they want to live. Parents decide where the minor children will live and if the parents can’t agree, then the court decides. The court will give some weight to the wishes of older children.
Can I move out of state?
Under certain circumstances a judge can restrain the children from moving from this state. There are specific procedures to follow, such as giving adequate notice to the other parent before a move. If you are the parent who wants to prevent your children from moving, you must act quickly as there is a limited period of time to object to the move.
Do you practice outside Snohomish County?
We practice in King, Snohomish, Whatcom and Island counties. We may handle family law matters in other counties on a case-by-case basis. Our attorneys represent out-of-state clients who have family law matters pending in Washington. We often help local clients who have matters pending in another state, associating with out-of-state counsel when necessary.
Does Washington have alimony?
Washington has spousal maintenance. Whether you or your spouse is entitled to spousal maintenance and how much depends on several factors such as the length of the marriage, income disparity, employment history, and property distribution. How much and for how long vary greatly from case to case.
What should I bring with me to the consultation?
The more prepared you are, the more productive the appointment. If you’re already divorced or in the midst of a legal proceeding, we will want to see copies of the relevant court pleadings, particularly any important court orders or final decrees.
We will also ask you for the Social Security numbers of the parents and the children.
In the interest of time and the sensitivity of the issues, please do not bring minor children to your appointment. If you believe you will need more than an hour for your first appointment, please indicate this at the time you are scheduled.