Saving attorney’s fees and time for dissolution of marriage actions
For quite some time the Colorado Supreme Court has permitted attorneys to represent clients on a piecemeal basis. This is particularly important in divorce cases where the parties may have a partial understanding of what they need to do in order to finalize a divorce. For example, in the typical divorce scenario, each side is represented by his/her own attorney. They go through the process by filing a Summons and Petition. There are numerous court dates which their attorneys attend on their client’s behalf and eventually hammer out by way of court testimony and exhibits a parenting plan and separation agreement.
Recently with the advent of mediation, it is very possible for clients to reduce their total out-of-pocket fees by having the attorney and his staff merely advise the client on a per-hour basis. For example, the Summons and Petition can be prepared by the attorney’s office and the client can have those filed with the court, pay the filing fee and have the documents served upon the other party or have the “other party” sign a Waiver of Formal Service.
The attorney can also advise the client on what points are critical in a mediation, as mediation is a much more efficient tool from a cost standpoint in that it is quicker and less expensive. The client also has the option of whether to have the attorney appear with him at mediation or not appear or the attorney can be available by telephone.
One-half of the dissolution of marriage actions are settled without going to a full hearing before a District Court Judge. Therefore, if parties are interested in saving attorney’s fees it would be in their best interests to contact a divorce attorney of their choice and inquire if they wish to hire an attorney on a per-hour basis including office time, preparation of documents and telephone time rather than having the attorney’s office enter his official “entry of appearance” wherein the courts presume the attorney’s office is preparing all the documents and is actively involved in all aspects of litigation.
Typical retainers for contested divorce actions with children are approximately $3,500 with a hourly rate of $225. It is conceivably possible with the work load being shared between the attorney and the client that this amount could divided by half.