Frequently Asked Questions
Listed below are answers to questions frequently encountered by Felicia as she helps individuals and families in Pierce and Kitsap counties, Washington, in divorce and related matters. If you have a specific question regarding your particular situation, or if you need advice and representation in a divorce or other family law matter, please call Family Law Resolutions at (253) 853-6940 to schedule a confidential consultation.
How long will my divorce take?
The length of time for your divorce depends on many factors, including which process you choose, the level of conflict you are experiencing with your spouse, and the complexity of issues to be resolved. Some cases only take a few months to resolve if they are non-adversarial, whereas more complex collaborative cases, as well as litigated cases, may take up to a year or more to complete. This can be further evaluated during the initial consultation.
How much will my case cost?
Most attorneys in family law are not able to estimate overall costs of a case. No one disagrees that legal fees can be expensive, and it is important to consider what your budget is for legal fees before proceeding into any legal action. Legal fees may significantly increase by the level of conflict the parties bring into a case, whether court intervention is necessary, the complexity of the issues, and the party's relationship with their attorney. If the parties are able to communicate fairly well and have restored a certain level of trust between themselves going into any legal action, they will be much more successful at resolving their issues sooner and without court intervention, thus saving fees. However, if emotions are high and the conflict is not managed, the length and complexity of the case will increase along with the fees.
What is the difference in cost between the process options?
Again, the overall cost is dependent on the factors cited above. However, each process option has varying levels of fees associated with it. Mediation involves only one professional paid on an hourly basis for time spent in session with both parties at the same time. Fees are paid at the time of the service. Collaborative Divorce involves two attorneys, and sometimes involves outside support professionals. Collaborative Divorce cases require an advanced fee deposit be paid when the attorney is hired. Other non-adversarial cases can involve either one or two attorneys, again typically requiring advanced fee deposits. Each of the process options mentioned in this paragraph are generally significantly less costly overall because the professionals and parties strive to work together on the issues at hand, as opposed to being adversarial.
Contested family law matters are of greater cost than any non-adversarial model because these issues typically involve two parties who are unable to work together and who must seek input from the court.
What if I want to be non-adversarial and the other party wants to fight?
How the other party comes to the case can depend on their personality, the personality of the attorney they choose to hire, outside non-professional influences of other people such as family, friends and co-workers, and the opposing party's willingness to examine how conflict can be reduced in order to save money and resolve the issues in a timely manner. You may introduce an action in a non-adversarial context, yet the other party does not respond in a similar fashion. If this occurs, you will be informed of all of your options and your budget will help determine what option to use.
Can I get the other party to pay my attorney's fees?
Although there are times when the court may order the other party to pay your fees, or the other party actually negotiates paying some of your fees as part of a settlement, the ultimate responsibility for the total fees and costs is yours because it is often very difficult to collect fees from another party. The best philosophy is to plan on being responsible for your full fees and costs and to have a plan for how you will pay them moving forward. The attorney can discuss a budget and payment options with you further during the initial consultation.