The idea of appearing in court to testify in a contested divorce or other family law matter can be terrifying for an involved party. A lot is on the line, including custody of children or property, and a person needs to put their best foot forward, both literally and figuratively. While the family law court system is decidedly more casual than other systems such as civil litigation or federal courts, it is important that litigants dress in an appropriate manner. Here are some tips for what to wear at a typical contested hearing, whether it’s for a divorce, child custody case, or any other family law issue.
Unfortunately there is no cut and dry answer to this question. It depends on three main factors:
- What is your attorney’s hourly rate? – An attorney with an hourly rate of $175 per hour will clearly result with lower attorney’s fees than an attorney who charges $475 per hour. Keep in mind that an attorney’s hourly rate is often reflective of their experience and skill level so it may be in your best interest to choose an experienced attorney at the cost of having higher attorney’s fees.
- How litigious is your case? – if your divorce requires multiple hearings, mediation, depositions, discovery and final trial you are looking at a divorce costing thousands of dollars. The more time an attorney spends in court the more your end bill will be.
- Contested or uncontested? If you and your spouse are able to come to an agreement on all issues, including children and property, you may be able to have an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce requires minimal litigation, very low cost due to the lack of discovery process and a quicker turnaround time, all of which result in lower fees.
Other factors include the use of expert witnesses, how much you communicate with your attorney and other expenses such as ordering copies transcripts of hearings or service fees. It is truly impossible to tell a client upfront how much a divorce will cost so it’s important to find an attorney who is willing to keep you apprised of your current invoice as well as be willing to assist in cost-cutting measures, such as agreeing to go to mediation in lieu of a full trial.