Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does It Cost to hire a lawyer for divorce?

As you might expect, divorce fees vary on a number of factors. Here are some of the variables to be considered:

  • How long were you married?
  • Do you have children? If so, how many and what are their ages?
  • Are you both employed?
  • Do either of you have retirement accounts (IRA, 401(k), etc?)
  • Do you have any vacation or investment properties?
  • Do you own your house?
  • Do you have an advanced degree?
  • Do you have any closely held businesses?
  • Do you have stock options as part of your compensation/retirement from your employer?
  • How much experience does your potential attorney have in addressing your type of situation?

Of course, there are more variables. That’s why it’s a good idea to set a consultation with a divorce attorney. Whether it’s our firm or somebody else, you need to have a lawyer tell you what the realistic outcomes, pathways, and potential obstacles will be before you decide to get divorced. Pro tip: A great attorney will tell you when it doesn’t make sense to proceed with divorce.

Do you need a lawyer for divorce?

In most cases, we do recommend having a lawyer consult with you. In the rare case of uncontested divorce (see below), it will save you time and money in the long run to work with a dedicated family law attorney from the beginning. It sounds counterintuitive, but in having handled hundreds of cases, many where people tried to go it themselves with the DIY route, when the case comes to our firm, there’s more work necessary to get to the same goal.

Do I need a divorce lawyer if we agree on everything?

This is known as an uncontested divorce. While these are exceptionally rare (when the rubber meets the road, there is usually some type of disagreement), it is worth having an attorney review your documents. You likely won’t need the standard retainer, but it’s a good practice for piece of mind to have a professional review your agreements.

How do I find a good divorce lawyer?

There are a couple ways to find a good divorce lawyer for you. First, you can ask your friends/family (we all know somebody who has been through this process). If you’re not comfortable doing that, do some research online. You’ve found your way to our page, so you’re likely on that path. Once you find an attorney who matches your needs, feel free to do some review checks and make sure others have had good experiences. Lastly, whomever you find that seems to meet your needs, set up an initial consultation (typically these are $250-$500) to make sure the attorney will be somebody you can trust. Note, beware of free consultations. Many family law firms that offer these tend to have very limited information exchange – likely no more than you can read about online. The reason you pay for an initial consultation it to have more detail, as well as confidentiality between you and the attorney. This is an incredibly valuable piece of information and something to consider.

  • Do you practice anything other than family law?
  • How long have you been practicing, and how many complex divorce cases have you handled?
  • Of those, how many were you able to reach a settlement agreement out of court?
  • Do you practice collaborative divorce?
  • Do you know my spouse, or my spouse’s attorney?
  • How familiar are you with local family court judges and how they rule?
  • Are you more aggressive, or do you prefer to mediate and negotiate than go to trial?
  • What type of experience do you have negotiating child support and visitation, spousal support, large financial settlements, or business valuations?
  • Will you be handling my case, or another associate/paralegal?
  • Can I speak to the people who will directly be involved in my case?
  • How can I stay up to date on my case status?
  • What’s the best way to communicate about my case?
  • There are certainly more questions you’ll have specific to your case, but an experienced family law lawyer will be able to answer these questions.

    What is the average retainer fee for a divorce lawyer?

    That depends on who you ask. If you look at nationwide statistics, many popular news sites will tell you a divorce on average will cost about $20,000 – $30,000 dollars. In some instances, this is true, but many of the clients we work with never get close to that level. Our office works to stay out of court as much as possible – not just to keep your fees lower, but to keep your anxiety and stress down. In your initial and confidential consultation, we’ll tell you exactly what your retainer will be (based on your unique situation) and what that retainer will cover.

    What do you talk about in a divorce consultation?

    The consultation should be two parts: first, your attorney should ask you about your situation and work to understand your unique needs, desires, motives, and goals. Second, you should be able to ask the attorney questions about their experience in this arena, how they approach your case, what the communication style will be, and so on. Please see below for a some more details on each.

    What are the five stages of divorce (grief)?

    Many people feel the five stages of grief when going through a divorce. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.

    Does divorce make you happier?

    Divorce can be good or bad for your future. The difference is in the process. Because there is a lot at stake (emotional, familial, and financial stress), having a solid support team and guidance will help you more effectively get through the process and begin the next chapter of your life.

    Is life better after divorce?

    If you ask any one of our clients, they’ll tell you the process of divorce is difficult, but once their cases were resolved, they felt more optimistic about the future and were happy with the help and service we provided along the way.

    Can I make my spouse pay for a divorce lawyer?

    Depending on a few (mostly financial) variables, this can sometimes be the case. If this is something you are considering, please give us a call and we can work with you to find the right path.

    Is divorce a failure?

    In our perspective, divorce is often the way to a better next chapter. The only times it seems like a failure is when you didn’t have the right expectations set at the beginning, felt like you had no say or power in the process, and ultimately felt like you hadn’t been valued. This is a core piece of our mission – we are fathers, mothers, spouses, some of us have been divorced ourselves, some of us have remarried. We know firsthand what the process looks like from all angles, and we will do everything in our power to give you the best possible outcomes in the moment, and for your future.

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    770 Tamalpais Drive
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    Napa, CA 94559
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    Walnut Creek, CA 94596
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    Phone: 925-660-7627
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    Santa Barbara, CA 93101
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    Phone: 805-719-7841
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    Meet Your Attorneys

    Brent Kaspar

    Brent Kaspar

    Managing Partner, Founder

    Robert Sullivan

    Robert Sullivan

    Senior Associate

    Arvin Lugay

    Arvin Lugay

    Partner, Founder

    Karly Roberson

    Karly Roberson

    Associate

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