Q: What is the cost of a typical divorce?
A: The cost may vary greatly depending upon the particular facts of each case. After meeting with you, our attorneys will determine your fee structure based upon a number of factors, including but not limited to:
- Whether the issues are contested or uncontested
- Whether or not minor children are involved
- The nature and extent of property and debt to be divided
- The level of conflict between the parties
- Whether or not injunctive relief is required
- The necessity for temporary orders
- Whether formal discovery is required and to what extent
- Whether a trial date has been set
- The pendency of any other deadlines in the case
Generally attorneys charge an upfront retainer and bill on an hourly basis, but in some cases a flat fee may be available.
Q: How long does it take to get a divorce in Texas?
A: There is a minimum statutory requirement of at least 60 days; however, divorces are rarely finalized in that period of time. If the case goes to trial, it may take two years or more. The actual time required depends upon many factors, including but not limited to:
- What issues are contested, and how contested are those issues
- The amount of debt and property to be divided
- The level of “discovery” or research that is required
- Whether or not minor children are involved
- The level of cooperation with your attorney
- The schedules of the court and the attorneys
Q: If I had a Will done in another state but I now live in Texas, do I now have to have a new Will prepared?
A: Perhaps, but not necessarily. Each state has its own requirements, so your existing documents may or may not meet the requirements of the state of Texas. You need to have an attorney review your Will and all other estate planning documents in the event you move from one state to another, and also after divorce or the birth or adoption of a child.
Q: What is Mediation, and how is it different than Arbitration?
A: Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process whereby a neutral person serves as a mediator. Usually the parties are in separate rooms, with their respective attorneys, and the mediator travels back in forth in an attempt to facilitate an agreement between them. Mediation is often used within the litigation process in an attempt to settle the case prior to trial. Many people confuse mediation with arbitration, but they are different in that an arbitrator is like a judge and makes a decision regarding the outcome of the case. The mediator, on the other hand, does not act as a judge, but works with the parties and their attorneys to help facilitate a settlement agreement.
Q: Is personal service always necessary when suit is filed?
A: No. The respondent may voluntarily sign a Waiver of Service, acknowledging that he/she has received a copy of the pleading and does not need to be formally served. If you are presented with a Waiver, it should be reviewed carefully, as other rights may also be waived in these documents.
Q: What is a Medical Power of Attorney, and is how is it different from a General Power of Attorney?
A: A Medical Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a particular person as your agent to make medical decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated. A General Power of Attorney, on the other hand, is a document that gives your decision-making power to another person in regard to business matters, such as selling property or paying taxes. It may take effect immediately, or upon disability. Both of these documents are extremely important. If a person becomes incapacitated and doesn’t have either of these documents in place, a guardian would likely have to be appointed by the court to handle these affairs, and that could cost the family thousands of dollars, as well as create unnecessary hardship.
Q: What is a “Living Will?”
A: A Living Will is also known as a “Directive to Physicians,” or a “Healthcare Directive.” Unlike the Medical Power of Attorney in which you appoint a healthcare agent, the Directive states your preference regarding life-saving procedures. Many people choose between having either a Medical Power of Attorney or a Directive to Physicians, but it is acceptable and advisable to have both. The attorneys at Justice & White can help you decide which is best for you and your family.
Q: What is “collaborative law,” or “collaborative divorce?”
A: Collaborative law is a relatively new concept within family law that offers an alternative to expensive, time-consuming litigation, in the form of a unique settlement process. It is most often used for divorce, but it may also be used for other family law matters, such as custody modifications. Collaborative Law works outside of the traditional courtroom, but within our legal system in an effort to settle disputes without the trauma of courtroom hearings. It does not rely on court-imposed resolutions but instead permits parties to negotiate in an atmosphere of honesty, cooperation, integrity, and professionalism in the interest of the future well-being of the parties. In a collaborative divorce, a team of specially trained professionals help the divorcing couple to dissolve their marriage in an atmosphere of dignity and respect. The professional team consists of two specially trained attorneys (one for each party), a neutral financial advisor and a neutral communication expert. The parties strive to reach a fair settlement through a series of meetings, called joint sessions. It is important that both attorneys, as well as the other professionals involved, have received collaborative training in order to effectively guide the process. The primary focus of the joint sessions is to identify the priorities, goals, needs and interests of the parties, and help them progress towards and create a settlement that is consistent with those priorities, goals, needs and interests. The parties craft their own agreement based upon their own standards. Most divorce attorneys agree that the parties can usually make better decisions about their own children and their own families than a judge can.