After serving the greater New Orleans area in family and divorce law for quite some time, you could definitely say that we have some questions that our clients ask very frequently. There are two questions, however, that stand out the most when people make that first call to our law practice. And we don’t blame them! The two most common questions that people ask us when they first call us are these:
How long is this going to take?
How much is this going to cost?
Since we pride ourselves on being as straightforward as possible with our community, the answer we typically give these questions is not what we wish it was. The answer is this: we don’t know.
Yes, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. We are telling you that we do not know the answer to your question.
Why is this?
Family Law and Divorce cases are infamous for how varied and nuanced they can be. In fact, the possible outcomes are countless. It’s easy to see why. Marriages and families are made up of human beings, after all. In Divorces and Family Law cases, no one case is exactly like the other because every single person, marriage, and family is different.
This variance in every person’s case is part of why the initial consultation (a one-on-one meeting for an attorney and any potential client) is so critical. Without having that sit-down with your potential attorney, there’s simply no way to even estimate how much a case will cost, or how long it will take. Usually, when a client has a question they need to ask, we have multiple questions we need to ask first before we can properly answer them.
From our end, what we are thinking of when we assess the possible costs and timelines are some of these factors:
- The amount the other party is willing and able to litigate
- The amount of time we will need to spend litigating for you
- The amount of time we will need to spend researching your legal matter
- The court costs that may be associated with your legal matter
If you are asking yourself whether or not your legal matter really is that complicated, there are some general situations that indicate that it might be. In a custody case:
- If a parent is refusing to allow the other parent to see the children
- If a parent wants to relocate the child to a different home
- If a parent is making serious accusations of another parent, including allegations of abuse, alcoholism, neglect, or domestic violence
- If a parent is speaking poorly of the other parent to the children
- If a parent is bringing a significant other around the children without the other parent’s consent
- If a parent is particularly averse to reaching any kind of agreement with the other parent regarding the children
- If you are not a biological parent seeking any kind of custody of a minor child
In a divorce, here are some indications that you may have a more complicated and lengthy legal battle on your hands:
- If you have minor children between you and your spouse
- If one spouse makes significantly more than the other
- If there were debts incurred without a spouse’s knowledge
- If there is property that needs to be divided, especially if the two spouses cannot agree on how to divide it
- If there was physical, verbal, or emotional abuse present in the marriage
- If there was adultery, emotional neglect, or emotional or physical abandonment in the marriage
- If a spouse committed a felony