What To Know About Policies And Procedures
At Scott Law Group, we want you to have all the information you need to proceed with your divorce or other family law matters. Below are some policies and procedures that will be important as we work together.
Court costs are $20 to file a motion and a $225 filing fee if the case is an uncontested divorce. If we use depositions and property appraisals, the costs will be much higher. You must pay for these items as we go since we will not be able to advance money on these procedures before the commitment is made. You have a right to receive a preliminary cost estimate from the service providers if you request it. We will make every effort to have the court assess the costs to your spouse where allowed by law.
Our services will be provided to you at the standard hourly rates set by the law firm and set forth in the fee agreement. The rate that we charge for the work performed by our paralegals is considerably less. Work on your case will be assigned to a paralegal from time to time to hasten timely completion of the matter and to reduce your costs. All employees are supervised depending on their training and experience to assure that you receive only the best quality work.
Before we can do any work on your case, we must receive an initial prepaid retainer.
Billable time will be charged in increments of a quarter-hour. Billable hours will be based primarily on the actual time spent specifically on your case but will be affected by other factors adopted by the North Carolina State Bar as a part of the Code of Professional Responsibility. These factors may result in a charge that is either more or less than that computed strictly on an hourly basis. A result fee would be charged only in those instances where an unusually favorable result is obtained because of our work, effort and expertise. We also charge document preparation fees for the use of certain computerized documents that have been carefully researched and drafted, and are continuously updated as the laws change. These are quickly accessed by use of our computer network and document assembly software.
The exception to this billing procedure is the contingent-fee contract in the equitable distribution cause of action. In some cases, it may be mutually beneficial for our fee contract to be based on a percentage of the value of the property that you receive in equitable distribution.
It is impossible to calculate the precise fee until the case is completed. A typical domestic case requires many separate services, including conferences, discovery of assets, liabilities, income and expenses, settlement negotiations with your spouse’s attorney, preparation and review of a proposed property settlement and support agreements, preparation and filing of pleadings or review of pleadings filed by your spouse, preparation or review of court offers and attendance at various court hearings. Much work is done by telephone and this time is billed at the standard rates. You can save money by giving us information in writing and by writing down your questions before you call us.
If a trial is necessary, one spouse may be ordered to pay some portion of the other spouse’s attorney fees. You are responsible for paying our fees but we will give you full credit for any payments received by us from your spouse under a court order. We will pursue any reasonable claim for attorneys’ fees against your spouse. The court may award attorney fees for the custody, child support and alimony claims but not for the absolute divorce and equitable distribution claims. The court must first decide that you have insufficient means to pay your fees and, generally, you must also be successful in your claim.
We must have all the facts to represent you properly. Anything you tell anyone in our office is strictly confidential and will not be disclosed without your permission. Conversations with your attorney with a third party present such as a friend or relative of yours are not confidential, so please understand if we ask to speak to you alone. Otherwise, our attorneys can be called as witnesses and must testify under oath about what you told us in front of a third party. Also, there is no certainty of privacy when using cellular phones, battery-powered phones, or email. Confidential matters should not be discussed when using these devices.
Security Of Documents, Cash Accounts And Credit Account
When possible, you should copy documents and secure them at a location where your spouse cannot find them. This can save you much money in legal and accounting fees. You may also wish to withdraw some or all funds in joint cash accounts and place these funds in a separate account in your name alone. You should also consider notifying all credit card authorities and equity line lenders that you will be responsible for no further charges made by your spouse. If you do not take these actions, your spouse may. While these property rights will be resolved ultimately at an equitable distribution hearing, that resolution may not occur for 12-24 months or longer. Until that time, the party with possession of marital assets is more likely to retain possession of those assets.
- We endeavor to focus our attention on one client’s matter at a time. Therefore, we do not generally take telephone calls during conferences with other clients, preparation of documents and pleadings for other clients, and other times when it would be unfair to a client to have his or her work interrupted. There are times when calls are handled as they come between times devoted to specific matters being dealt with at the office. Obviously, we cannot take calls when we are in court or otherwise out of the office.
- To handle telephone calls efficiently, we suggest that clients leave detailed messages with our office along with a telephone number where they can be reached during the day or evening.
- If a matter requires immediate attention, please feel free to inform our office of the precise nature of the emergency so that we can best assist you. We will respond to your call as soon as possible.
- It is our objective to try to return all telephone calls on the day they are received. However, at times this is not possible because the attorney handling the case is in trial, out of the office, or otherwise engaged such that he cannot return all calls on a given day. In that event, we try to return calls according to the nature of the problem and the time available.
- Occasionally, you may need to reach us at home, in the evening, or on a weekend. If there is a matter about which you need advice and cannot wait until regular business hours, we welcome your call. However, please keep in mind that we will not have your file or appointment calendars at home and unless it is truly necessary to call us at home, we prefer that you wait until regular business hours when we have access to this information, so that we are better able to assist you.
- Remember that there may be times when, although we make an effort to return your call, we are unable to reach you for various reasons. We will continue trying to reach you to the extent reasonably possible. Please feel free to call us back if our efforts to contact you have been unsuccessful.