Does anybody know of a competent but relatively inexpensive divorce lawyer in Austin? If not, does anyone have any general tips on picking one? Thanks.
I don’t have any, but condolences in advance. Word on the street is that going through a divorce sucks ass.
Don’t have any suggestions other than advice I’ve heard from others : get a mean one. That way, they can be the prick and you don’t have to mean. You need a mean bastard to make sure it’s fair but it’s better long term if YOU aren’t said bastard.
Are you sure you need a lawyer? If it’s an amicable divorce, you can go with a legal aide to help you with the documents.
I found mine on the internet googling “cheap divorce lawyer”. Or something like that. Cost $500.
(slight sterotype here, sorry)
The uber-jewish lawyer the local bar recommended me that had the Israeli flag on his wall, a menora on his desk, and a Star of David ring on his finger wanted $400 an hour. Minimum $2000, all in advance in an escrow account. I literally laughed at him.
(slight stereotype off, sorry)
Of course mine was amicable.
Yeah, there is going to be a custody dispute.
Then all my advice goes out the window. Whew.
Oy. I do not envy you. :(
Sorry to hear it, JPR. Good luck.
Get a lawyer mate.
You always need a lawyer in a divorce. Always.
My Mom had an amicable divorce, granted, it was 30 years ago, but she got screwed. I have heard the same from other friends that wanted to save the expense and hardship. Rarely can divorce attorneys represent both parties equally. It seems like it would be simply a matter of bartering the 50% split and appropriate alimony/child support as warranted. However, anecdotally, I have not found that to be the case.
All this is beside the point for JPR. Good luck again, man.
If you’re young, and you don’t have kids or any significant assets (or debts), you can get by without one. Otherwise, yeah.
I can’t recommend this advice. The typical combatitive divorce lawyer will fight only as long as you have money, and then move on to greener (get it?) pastures without regard to whether you achieved the outcome best for you and your family.
My wife’s been a family law attorney in Texas for over 10 years, and these are the pointers I have:
– Expect to pay at least $200-$300 an hour for a decent lawyer. The more you want to fight, the more it will cost. This may seem obvious, but a lot of people will spend $1000 to fight about who gets a $250 item. Emotions run high. It’s a good idea to consider whether future-ex is going to be unreasonable or not, there are most certainly indicators present.
– This is not the time to get cheap or try a do-it-yourself’er. This is going to affect how you live every day of your life for the forseeable future. Break open the piggy bank or use that line of credit, if spent wisely it’s money well spent.
– Do not hire a lawyer sight-unseen. Have a consultation to see if this is someone who you feel you can deal with and who you feel confident in. Always trust your gut, don’t talk yourself out of uneasy feelings.
– Some lawyers will want to charge you a fee just to sit down and talk about your case. While this is understandable (it’s an easy way to weed out bargain-shoppers and timewasters) there should be plenty of attorneys who won’t charge for a consult, especially in a city/county the size of Austin/Travis.
– Expect to be charged a retainer (an up-front deposit of funds against future legal fees) by any experienced FL attorney. Failure to ask for a retainer or charging a very low retainer is a sign of a desperate or inexperienced attorney. My wife usually asks for (and gets) about $3500 up front, more if it’s a complicated or difficult case or client. (It’s also another good way to weed out bargain shoppers and time-stealers, since the courts will not always allow an attorney who is not being paid to withdraw from a case.)
– A board-certified lawyer will cost you more than one who is not, but being board-certified does not necessarily establish that such an attorney is “better,” thanks to the Texas Bar’s somewhat arcane cert. requirements (such as handling appellate cases and jury trials, both of which are rare in the FL context). There are perfectly competent FL atorneys who are not board-certified, and you did say cost was an issue.
– You want an attorney who regularly practices law in the county that the case will be filed in. This is critical. There is no downside for an elected Texas district judge to deny the benefit of the doubt to an out-of town lawyer, and a lot of cases turn on which party gets the benefit of the doubt. There’s a reason that “homecourt” is a verb in Texas lawyer-speak.
– If I wanted to get an attorney referral in a particular Texas county, I would ask a lawyer (or several) who does not pratice in that area of law who they would hire to handle a case like that for themselves or their family. The more experience the lawyer has in that county, the better an answer you will get. Lawyers like giving referrals to other lawyers in their home areas, because what goes around often comes around.
– Once you hire a lawyer, don’t dick them around. Give them the documents they ask for in a timely manner. Show up for court appearances on time and dressed appropriately. Don’t engage in bad/wild behavior while the case is pending, particularly the documentable kind (ex: my wife has a great story about cross-examining a woman who left a camera with photos of herself behaving very badly at a tailgate party at the marital residence). Resist the urge to punish the soon-to-be-ex-spouse through the children (often the only remaining avenue). Keep expectations reasonable (Texas is a no-fault state in which most parties do not get more than a 50-50 split).
No, you don’t. I resolved my marriage, including the disbursement of assets, without a lawyer. We used a paralegal (which is what I meant to say instead of legal aide in my first post) to do the document preparation. I have known several other couples who have done the same.
This was, of course, in the state of California, which has pretty straightforward laws about divorce, and we didn’t have any children so there was no issue of custody.
Congratulations. But realize that there are risks conducting business in a field of expertise without possessing or obtaining any of that expertise yourself.
You don’t want to be one of the folks who tries to sell her house in a few years and finds out that the quit-claim deed recommended by a non-lawyer assistant didn’t actually convey title to the house and now the ex-spouse wants to be compensated for executing a new transaction (real world example).
That’s why we sold the house and disbursed the funds as part of the divorce.
Yeah, but kids are involved here, Athryn, which puts this in a different universe from your divorce. No lawyer is not an option in that case.
Even if there was no dispute, you’d want to make sure to have all of the custody decisions codified and spelled out, because what’s amicable now might not be 10 years down the road. With no kids, a decade from now you can forget you were ever married. With a kid, you must sustain contact, and you’ll want to be sure your parental rights are secure in the future as well.
Well yeah I know that, my other responses were to the “you need a lawyer 100% of the time” crowd.
You do need one 100% of the time if you’re going about divorce proceedings like an intelligent person. You either got lucky or don’t know you’re screwed yet. Either way, don’t give that advice to people who are divorcing. Ever.