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Divorce Rights

Divorce Rights

 

YOUR RIGHTS AS A DIVORCE CLIENT

  • An attorney may not refuse to represent you on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin or disability.
  • You are entitled to an attorney who will represent your best interests and preserve your confidences. However, results cannot be guaranteed.
  • You are entitled to a written retainer agreement that must clearly, and in plain language, explain the details of the legal service contract. You have the right to fully understand the agreement before signing it.
  • You may refuse to enter into any fee agreement that you deem to be unsatisfactory.
  • You cannot be required to enter into an agreement that is contingent on the securing of a divorce or on the amount of money/property obtained.
  • Your attorney cannot request a non-refundable retainer agreement. Thus, if you fire your attorney or if your attorney quits before the retainer is used up, the remainder must be returned to you.
  • You are entitled to know the approximate number of attorneys or other legal staff members who will be handling your case and the charge for the services of each.
  • You must be told in advance how you will be expected to pay legal fees and expenses. You are entitled to receive a good faith estimate of approximate future costs of your case.
  • You must receive written, itemized bills on a regular basis (at least every 60 days). You must be kept informed of the status of your case and to be given copies of correspondence and documents prepared on your behalf.
  • You have the right to be present in court for all proceedings.
  • You have the right to determine the ultimate objectives of your case and to make the final decision regarding settlement of your case.
  • Your written retainer agreement must specify under what circumstances your attorney may quit for nonpayment of legal fees. If an action is pending, your attorney may be given a "charging lien" which entitles the attorney to payment out of the proceeds of the final settlement in the case.
  • You do not have to sign any security agreements, such as a Confession of Judgment, promissory note, or a lien or mortgage on your home, to cover your legal fees. But if you do choose to sign a security agreement, it must be approved by the court of record beforehand.
  • You are entitled to a written escrow agreement if you entrust money to your attorney. The attorney must open a special bank account for the money in escrow, and must disperse the funds to the interested parties immediately upon completion of the duties detailed in the escrow agreement.
  • You can seek arbitration in the event of a fee dispute. Your attorney must explain to you how to proceed with arbitration.

 

YOUR DUTIES AS A DIVORCE CLIENT

You must review the itemized bills sent to you by your attorney and raise objections or mistakes in a timely fashion. You will not be charged for time spent discussing your bill.

You are expected to be candid with your attorney and provide all relevant information and documentation to enable your attorney to perform her/his duties.

 

THE WRITTEN RETAINER AGREEMENT

The written retainer agreement must include:

  • Names and addresses of individuals entering into the agreement
  • Nature of the services to be rendered
  • Amount and purpose of advanced retainer
  • Circumstances under which advanced retainer may be refunded
  • Client's rights to cancel agreement at anytime and how the attorney's fees will be paid
  • How the attorney will be paid after there the retainer is depleted
  • Hourly rate for each person who may work on the case and the types of "out-of-pocket" expenses the client must cover
  • Clauses that explain fee payments in addition to the retainer fee, such as a reasonable minimum fee clause (stated in plain language)
  • Frequency of itemized billing, which must be at least every 60 days.
  • Client's rights to copies of correspondence and documents relating to the case.
  • When and how an attorney may seek a "security interest" from a client, contingent upon approval by the court.
  • Under what situations an attorney can seek to withdraw from a case because of fee non-payment, as well as under what circumstances an attorney can seek a charging lien.
  • Client's right to seek binding fee arbitration, with information provided by the attorney on how to proceed with arbitration upon request.




  • DivorceInteractive.com tries to provide quality information, but cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information, opinions or other content posted on the site. It is not intended as a substitute for and should not be relied upon as legal, financial, accounting, tax, medical or other professional advice. It should not be construed as establishing a professional-client or professional-patient relationship. The applicability of legal principles is subject to amendment by the legislature, interpretation by the courts and different application by different judges and may differ substantially in individual situations or different states. Before acting on what you have read, it is important to obtain appropriate professional advice about your particular situation and facts. Access to and use of DivorceInteractive.com is subject to additional Terms and Conditions. DivorceInteractive.com is a secure site and respects your Privacy.


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