Divorce is a whole structure now where we will be able to educate people to help them handle the emotions of divorce, and we can also help them connect with the right divorce attorney who will deal with the legalities of this separation process.
Question: What do you do as a family law attorney in the divorce process?
Answer: I help families that are going through changes in their family dynamics, and these are primarily divorces. We also have some cases that have to do with the timesharing or issues involving children between parents who were never married, which would be called a paternity action. I also work with divorce coaches and mediators.
Question: How can a divorce coach work with a family law attorney?
Answer: It’s all about bringing more people to the table for a holistic approach to divorce. For instance, divorce coaches will best handle the emotional side of divorce since they received training for that. And working with divorce coaches makes it a lot easier for the client and for us. The same goes with other professions like sometimes, we also need to work with a financial advisor, therapists, and CPA.
Question: How would you recommend clients to get the right family law attorney for them?
Answer: It depends on the question, if they are asking for a referral, that is when your network and contacts come in to play. If you want to help this person, then you need to make sure to refer them to the right family law attorney. And there are instances that the attorney you want to recommend is currently working on something, so you might as well make sure to give your client a few names to choose from.
But suppose in case you don’t really know anyone. In that case, you can join a club or meeting that will give you access to attorneys or just simply go to the internet and check the attorneys in that area and their reviews from previews clients or see if they have been reprimanded before. All in all, it is imperative to build a network of people from different professions that you can trust.
Question: What are the areas that you would like as a family lawyer to focus on with your clients?
Answer: I want to focus on uncontested divorces because that’s more of like my emotional side because I really like when everyone walks away happy, so I guess my strong point is I’m very good at contracts like settlement agreements, parenting plans, and the likes.
Question: How do you tell your clients that they need the protection of a good contract?
Answer: Well, I first ask them if they have kids, and if they do, it’s more likely than not that they would need at least to speak with an attorney and hopefully try to draft something together because when you’re dealing with kids, child support comes into play. And if the other spouse is earning more than the other, then that spouse has to pay more when it comes to child support, and that should be put into an agreement. And there are other things that need agreement like loans, cars, assets, liabilities, timesharing, and the likes, and there are negotiation tactics that lawyers can help them a lot.
Question: How do you help those who want an uncontested and collaborative approach but their partner does not cooperate?
Answer: There are instances that the other spouse is hesitant to talk to a divorce attorney because of their preconception, so what I do is I make sure first that the other spouse doesn’t have an attorney and then give them my contact information ask them to call me and it usually works. And I also sometimes give the other spouse a list of attorneys within my network that could help them because if I’m representing one and they represent the other, we will work together to make an agreement that is solid for both.
Question: What would you say to those people that come to you with that already preconceived wrongful idea about divorce?
Answer: That usually happens to someone that is emotional because they are just in the process of separation and trying to plan their life and feeling like it’s the end of the world for them. I tell them that the law is there to protect them, and there goes timesharing with kids, custody, child support, status quo, and the likes.
Question: What is the best approach to custody?
Answer: The ideal situation is 50/50 since a child needs both of the parents but if the other parent cannot always take care of the other 50% most of the time, that is when it shifts to the other parent. If the other parent has the ability to be with the kids, then they should have it. Coparenting is very important, and if you realize that you cannot do 50/50, you need to realize it earlier rather than fighting for it with the other parent even if you cannot really commit to it.
Question: What are the mistakes that you wish people should work on first before getting a divorce?
Answer: There are a few, but I’ll start with timesharing. Parents want to be with their kids, or maybe they just want their lower child support payments. They would ask for a 50/50 custody, and then later they would realize that it’s no longer feasible, specially if they are from a different state and the divorce was already finalized, so we need to reopen it since child support and timesharing is modifiable. Other things would be more about properties like houses, cars, and the likes.
Question: How long and how much does it cost to go through an uncontested or contested divorce?
Answer: Suppose it’s an uncontested divorce, and you would need a little help of an attorney for reviewing documents, and the assets and liabilities were already divided and settled. In that case, it will cost between $1000 to $1500. Moreso, if they can qualify for indigent status, we could wave the $412 filing fee or whatever the cost is, depending on the state you are in. As for the time, if you are through filling, it usually takes a day or two. On the other hand, if it’s an uncontested divorce that requires agreement for kids, properties, and the likes, that would cost around $1500 to $2000.
As for contested divorces, it would depend on the income. For instance, if the other spouse makes a lot more, then we can have that spouse pay for the fees, and attorneys usually charge per hour. It could range from $300 to $600 per hour. It also depends as to what it is that you are trying to contest; if it’s more about kids, then the minimum would be $5000. It really depends on the situation.
Olga Nadal is the author of “The Holistic Divorce: A Practical Ten Step Program For Healing” and the CEO of the Holistic Divorce Institute. Ms. Nadal trains people to become divorce coaches through her institute, Holistic Divorce Coaches. She is also the founder of Divorce For Love coaching divorcing spouses going through the divorce process.
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