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
- You are entitled to an attorney who will represent your
best interests and preserve your confidences. However, results cannot be
- 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
- 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
- You have the right to be present in court for all
- You have the right to determine the ultimate objectives
of your case and to make the final decision regarding settlement of your
- 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
- 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
THE WRITTEN RETAINER AGREEMENT
The written retainer agreement must include:
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