Low-cost Santa Rosa Divorce Attorney
Divorce AttorneyFree Case Evaluation
Mon – Sat
8 AM – 6 PM
I help clients file for divorce and advocate for their child custody rights in family court. In my experience, many individuals facing litigation in family court need affordable representation. To help clients achieve their family law goals I offer a reduced hourly rate and accept payment by credit card.
If you have spoken with other family law attorneys but couldn’t afford their fees, or don’t feel comfortable representing yourself with assistance from the family law facilitator, call me at (707) 200-6688 for a free case evaluation. During the free case evaluation, I can tell you what I can do for your case and provide a no-obligation quote. While I do require a retainer fee and bill by the hour like other local attorneys, I have found my fees to be lower than many other experienced divorce attorneys.
Free Case Evaluation
I offer a free 15-minute case evaluation to help potential clients learn more about their legal position. During the case evaluation, you can explain your case and I’ll explain how I can help you. Like any other divorce attorney, I can’t provide free legal work during the case evaluation, but I can help you learn what I think of your position and how I can help you achieve your goals. In certain circumstances, I can also predict a likely outcome and detail how we can best achieve that outcome in a cost-effective manner. To receive a free case evaluation call my office at (707) 200-6688.
Filing for Divorce in Santa Rosa
To file for divorce in Santa Rosa you must have been a resident of Sonoma County for the past 3 months and California for the past 6 months.
After filing and service of process, the earliest a divorce can be finalized in 6 months and 1 day pursuant to California law. Accordingly, there is no 1-day divorce. Moreover, many spouses naturally file a response thereby delaying a final judgment until issues of custody, support, and property division are resolved. In light of the length of divorce and frequent necessity of legal representation in custody, support, and property division many clients gain leverage and save time by hiring a divorce attorney before filing for divorce.
The policy behind the 6 month waiting period before a final judgment for dissolution can be entered is to give couples time to reconcile, though admittedly for many couples this mandatory waiting period is frustrating. Nevertheless, couples who agree on the major issues, possibly through a marital settlement agreement after mediation or through an uncontested divorce, can save time, stress, and money.
Child Custody Attorney
Child custody is an emotionally charged area of family law and one that is frequently litigated. With parent-child relationships hanging in the balance it’s no surprise that many clients want sole custody, legally and physically. To help clients achieve their goals I offer aggressive representation in child custody for an affordable fee when the facts support such a tactic, but I also offer cost-effective negotiation when joint custody is the more likely outcome.
Child Support Lawyer
Many family law cases center upon the amount of child support. In California, the amount of child support is a product of a statutory formula, but some of the factors such as evidence of income, imputed income, and earning capacity can make the final calculation anything but straightforward. Accordingly, many child support lawyers can influence the calculation in their client’s favor.
Divorce Involving a Business
California community property law is not kind to business owners, nor is discovery a light task for their spouses. With the assistance of my staff and associate tax attorney, I can effectively represent owners and spouses in document-intensive divorce cases while utilizing interrogatories to my client’s advantage.
Mediation can help 2 parties facing divorce settle their legal issues outside of court. In meditation, I meet with both parties and inform them how the law applies to their situation, including property division, child support, and child custody. Through guided negotiations, the parties come to agreements and embody those agreements in legal documents that will be filed with the family court. For parties who can work together over the course of several sessions, mediation can save both parties thousands of dollars in attorney fees.
An overview of divorce and family law is further down the page, but I find that many clients already know they need an attorney; what they really want to know before the first call is how much a Santa Rosa divorce attorney will cost. To help everyone better understand the basics of divorce attorney fees and how much I may charge, I’ve provided a brief overview of divorce attorney billing practices.
Nearly every divorce attorney charges a retainer, which basically functions as an initial deposit. Once you pay a family law attorney a refundable retainer fee the attorney will hold that money in a “trust account” at a bank. Afterward, the attorney will work on your case and charge you an hourly fee for their legal work. In most cases, the attorney will provide an invoice after a period of time, let’s say a month, and withdraw that amount from the retainer. Once the retainer fee is nearly depleted the attorney will ask you to “replenish” the retainer by making an additional payment.
Once the attorney-client relationship ends, either naturally by achieving the object of representation or through termination of employment, the attorney will refund the unearned balance of the retainer. In this way, the attorney is assured of payment throughout the case while you are guaranteed a refund of unearned fees.
A flat fee is an amount paid by a client to an attorney for a specific legal task. For example, a client may pay a bankruptcy attorney a flat fee of $900 for representation in chapter 7 bankruptcy. The payment will guarantee that the bankruptcy attorney drafts and files the petition, attends the meeting of creditors, and secures a discharge order. However, as evidenced by this example, flat fees are only offered when the scope of work is clear to the attorney. When the scope of work depends upon the litigiousness of 2 parties, such as in litigation or family law, flat fees are rarely offered. After all, if a divorce attorney offered a flat fee to secure joint custody the attorney would be risking an unknown scope of work and duration of representation as the outcome will depend upon the litigiousness of the parties and opposing counsel – something beyond the attorney’s control.
In a contingency fee arrangement, the attorney works for a percentage of the money awarded. This arrangement is common in personal injury where the attorney works for nothing upfront but receives a percentage of the money recovered. Unfortunately, ethical rule 1.5(c) governing the conduct of California attorneys effectively prohibits contingency fees in divorce and family law cases.
A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect… any fee in a family law matter, the payment or amount of which is contingent upon the securing of a dissolution or declaration of nullity of a marriage or upon the amount of spousal support or child support, or property settlement in lieu thereofRule of Professional Conduct 1.5(c)
$250 Per Hour
Since flat fees are risky for divorce attorneys and contingency fees are prohibited, nearly every divorce attorney charges an initial retainer fee and bills against that retainer according to their hourly rate. For the sake of transparency and comparison, my hourly rate is $250 and I normally charge an initial refundable retainer fee of $3,000 to $5,000. Of course, in complex cases where the anticipated number of hours is significant, I may charge a larger refundable retainer.