How can you tell if your attorney is causing you trouble or gouging you?
Our Savannah Family Law Attorney, David Purvis tackles that question in
One thing that is fairly constant among family law practitioners is that
billing is done on an hourly basis. At the onset of a case, while we may
be able to formulate what the reasonable end result will be and what rational
steps should be taken to get there, we as attorneys don't know how
the opposing party will react to litigation. The opposing party may be
reasonable and thus the time and money invested will reflect such. Or
the opposing party may dig in their heels, refuse to listen to reason,
and what could have been a straightforward case turns into months or years
of litigation. Therefore, we have to work on an hourly basis.
Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous attorneys that facilitate this second
behavior by creating mountains out of molehills, even if their clients
don't realize that this is happening. If they create a mountain, where
only a molehill exists, they can bill many more hours and make a lot more
money off of their unfortunate clients.
As a client or prospective client, you can tell rather quickly whether
your attorney makes mountains out of molehills.
A "mountain" case in family law could be a very long term marriage
with large and detailed assets and debts that must be equitably divided.
A "mountain" case in family law could be a child custody dispute
where both parents are great parents and want as much time with their
children as possible, (but don't think that the other parent should).
A "mountain" case in family law could be a child custody case
where one parent has no business with unsupervised access to the children.
A "mountain" case in family law is NOT a short duration marriage
without children or extensive assets. Those typically fall into the "molehill" category.
If you suspect that your case is more of a "molehill" and your
attorney is making a "mountain" out of it so that he can pay
for his lifestyle, here are some common traits to look for:
1. Your Complaint or Counterclaim asks for a divorce on the grounds of
anything in addition to "irretrievably broken." This could include
grounds for adultery, cruel treatment, desertion, or habitual intoxication.
One, if the grounds for divorce is baseless, your attorney is probably
just creating a mountain out of a molehill. Two, what gets filed in court
is typically open to the public. Why allege behavior that there is no
shred of evidence to support?
2. The discovery requests your attorney sends to the opposing party are
all over the place and ask about things that are not relevant to your
case. Chances are, you have been billed for the catch-all blanket discovery
requests that your attorney sends out on every case. Asking questions
about children when there are no children of the marriage? Talk about
creating a mountain out of a molehill.
You don't need a law degree to smell trouble. Chances are, if it does
not make sense, it isn't sensible. If you feel like you're constantly
being "sold" on the necessity of something, you're probably
paying for a mountain when a molehill is really all you should have to afford.
Fortunately, as the client,
you have the power. You may have to have a very hard talk with your attorney. If he can't
get on board, you may have to send him packing. It is your case. Is it
going to be your mountain? Or is it going to be your molehill?