WHY IS THERE A CHARGE FOR THE INITIAL CONSULTATION?
Admittedly, there are attorneys that offer a “free” initial consultation. This is usually for very general information that often times does not provide you with the specificity of information you need to understand the issues in your particular case. And each case is different. At the Law Offices of Matthew M. Kremer we want to “drill down” into those particulars so that you have a clear understanding of the pros and cons of your case. The expertise and information provided is of the very highest caliber. We charge a modest consultation fee and even that is applied against the retainer if you decide to retain our services in your divorce or family law matter.
WILL WE HAVE TO GO TO COURT?
Not necessarily. The court is there for situations where the parties simply cannot reach an agreement. In your divorce matter, the Law Offices of Matthew M. Kremer will first attempt to reach a negotiated settlement. If successful, you may never see the inside of a courtroom. That said, there are certain court hearings set by the court that Matthew M. Kremer may have to attend, such as a Family Resolution Conference. But those are brief and can often be continued (postponed) a few times by telephone.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE (DIVORCE) AND LEGAL SEPARATION?
The main difference is that, upon entry of judgment of Legal Separation, you are still married. Other than that, everything is the same. Property division, custodial sharing of minor children, support, etc. are all the same. Sometimes, parties will want a legal separation for tax, health or religious reasons. It varies from case to case. However, it is not at present a method that will insure continued dependent coverage on health insurance. Also, it is a tool to be used where the parties cannot meet the residency requirements at the moment for filing a divorce action.
HOW MUCH WILL MY DIVORCE COST?
A valid and important question that, unfortunately, has no set or ready answer. The costs can be initially calculated: The current filing fee for a new case is $435.00 and for a motion it is $60.00. Fees depend on many factors the most important of which is: Are the parties BOTH being reasonable? With the guidance provided by Matthew M. Kremer, you will understand what is a reasonable position to take; that will save money. But if the other side, for whatever reason (emotions, advice of counsel, just being sheer ornery) insists on being unreasonable, refuses to settle or stipulate to issues, fees will be driven up. We can control what we do for you in a proactive way. We have limited control over what we can make the other side do and have to react to them. At a certain point, however, their unreasonable actions may rise to the level of being sanctionable under Family Code section 271; there’s nothing like a monetary sanction to induce “reasonableness” in the other party. We always keep one eye on what the case is costing our client. At the Law Offices of Matthew M. Kremer, our divorce clients are always provided a “cost/benefit analysis” of actions we can take or refrain from taking. Sure, we need to earn a fee to stay in business, but that does not mean we want to see a client paying more than absolutely necessary.
WILL THE OTHER SIDE BE ORDERED TO PAY MY ATTORNEY FEES?
Maybe. The award of attorney fees is generally determined by the provisions of Family Code section 2030. This looks to whether or not there is “a disparity of income and/or assets” between the parties. In other words, does one party have income and/or assets greater than the other to the extent that it would be proper and equitable to make them pay the other’s attorney fees? Oftentimes, after support has been ordered, the parties have very similar net incomes so no fee award is made. But not always and, if there is a reasonable chance of success, Mr. Kremer will aggressively pursue this option.
WHEN CAN I BE SINGLE?
Six months from when the other party is served with the Petition, or files their Response, is the first day you COULD be single. That does not mean you WILL be single that day. It is not automatic and has to be requested.
WILL THE MINOR CHILDREN TESTIFY AT COURT?
Again, maybe. The ultimate decision as to whether or not to allow testimony of minor children is up to the judge. Generally, a child 14 years or older will be allowed to testify in some form or another. All minors of sufficient age will be allowed to “testify” indirectly, either through interview with Family Court Services, a psychological evaluator, or Minor’s Counsel. At the Law Offices of Matthew M. Kremer, we want to limit the children’s involvement in the divorce process as much as possible and to insulate them from their parents’ litigation; that said, if the testimony is important and necessary, we will seek to have it introduced into evidence in the most compassionate method possible.
WHAT PAPERS DO I NEED TO START?
We will want you to gather financial documents (bank statements, brokerage account statements, pension reports, etc.) as well as three months of recent paystubs. For you and for the other party, if possible. We would also want the previous three years of tax returns (federal and state) as well as any tax schedules. This applies to personal returns as well as corporate and business tax returns. We’ll know more after we meet. If custody or visitation will be an issue, we will want the children’s recent school reports. If a party is claiming they cannot work due to health reasons, we would want supporting documentation of the health claim. Eventually, we will need other records to complete the Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure. And we will need particular documents if one party is claiming that property is wholly or partially separate (as opposed to community) property. And, of course, a copy of any prenuptial or postnuptial agreement of the parties if applicable.