Tag Archives: Piedmont

New Contra Costa County Family Court Rules Reduce Cost of Divorce in East Bay

Continuing its progressive role in stream-lining the court system and making it more accessible, the Contra Costa County Superior Court has implemented new rules that encourage divorcing parties to avoid court, to reach their own agreements through a voluntary, out of court process, and save significantly on the attorney’s fees that are otherwise needed to appear repeatedly in court.

Local Rule 12.5 governing “Collaborative Law” cases went into effect January 1st of this year (1/1/2011), stating “The Court recognizes the unique nature of family law disputes and the fact that family law issues are best resolved by the parties reaching agreement over critical matters as child custody, support and property, without engaging in the traditional adversarial litigation process.” Unique among Bay Area family courts, this suburban county court has officially stated it “strongly supports the use of the collaborative law process” and other out of court means to resolve disputes to “meet the best interests of the entire family, particularly the children”.

Many divorcing families are now choosing this alternative divorce process calledCollaborative Divorce, which involves attorneys and other specialists to help the family understand and decide important (and often complicated) custody and financial issues, but which is almost entirely done out of court in a mediation style process. To be “collaborative”, both sides sign a contract promising to stay out of court, to freely exchange documents and information, and to work with professionals to find mutual agreement, rather than constantly threatening the other side with court.

Previously, collaborative attorneys have been in a gray area so far as what was necessary to satisfy the usual requirements and formalities imposed by every court when a divorce petition is filed. Now at least in Contra Costa County, there is some clarity, which should save money for collaborative divorce litigants.

The most tangible impact of the new Rule 12.5 is that the attorneys for both sides will not be required to file statements, and appear in court for routine Case Management Conferences, which are otherwise required of litigants and potentially involve multiple appearances to achieve nothing more than “management” of the case, and which do not typically resolve any of the substantive issues. Instead, parties are allowed at least 1 year to resolve the case out of court without needing to pay their attorneys to report to the judge on how the case is coming along. Parties are also freed from other common deadlines and “scheduling orders” that tend to drive up the cost of a divorce. Real cost savings are expected to result by freeing parties of these various burdens.

To benefit from the new rule, parties must sign a formal document binding them to the collaborative divorce process, typically by hiring an attorney specifically trained in this cutting-edge approach to divorce.

Mr. Holcomb is a trained Collaborative Divorce attorney, offering “out of court” divorce services. He has 25 years experience as a divorce and civil litigator in all the Northern California courts. He is available for mediation, litigation and pre-marital and post-marital planning.

Mr. Holcomb offers a fixed fee initial consultation at either his main South Berkeley or Walnut Creek office.

Via EPR Network
Law press releases

Divorce Attorney Introduces A Novel Reduced Fee Program For His San Francisco Bay Area Clients Who Pay Their Bills Promptly

People facing a decision to end a marriage are often daunted at the prospect of paying the notoriously very high hourly fees charged by experienced Family Law attorneys. A complicated case can require hundreds of hours of attorney time, and therefore tens of thousands of dollars in expense. Even a simple case requires a significant expenditure to complete financial disclosures, negotiate a complete settlement and prepare and execute the numerous required documents.

Especially in the current economy of depressed home values and decimated investment accounts, paying even a very good professional for services at a typical rate of $350 to $450 per hour, and more, just does not make sense to most potential clients.

When asked why their rates are so high, Divorce attorneys routinely justify the high rates by pointing out that their clients often do not pay their bills in full, leaving the attorney with uncollectible accounts receivable. This low rate of collection therefore justifies charging everyone a higher rate, or so they say.

In response to the current economy, and realizing that the many honest clients who do honor their financial obligations should not be charged extra to cover the unpaid bills of complete strangers, Berkeley attorney David Holcomb has been offering clients a novel reduced hourly fee arrangement. He realized that expecting some clients to not pay, and then overcharging good clients to make up for the others, was itself the problem. So he has turned this around. Mr. Holcomb explains: “If my clients are willing to make a real commitment to paying for my services, then I commit to an hourly rate that is $50 to $150 per hour less than most other experienced attorneys are charging.”

Mr. Holcomb’s attorney/client fee agreement literally puts a line through his standard hourly rate, and instead offers a reduced rate for every minute of services he provides, so long as the client either posts advance payment for services, or pays within 10 days of invoicing. If the client falls behind, they are assessed the full rate.

This has been a true “win/win” that works for both clients and for this “Compassionate Divorce” attorney. “We start out on a foundation of mutual trust, and mutual responsibility, with mutual rewards. In the 8 months since initiating this new policy, I have never had to assert the “standard” rate, because my client’s are very appreciative of the fair value of my services, and make an extra effort to stay ahead of their bills.”

Mr. Holcomb acknowledges that a good lawyer’s service on a divorce are never cheap, but he estimates his comparatively low hourly rate saves each client $5,000 on average, or about a 20% savings.

“My clients are happy to pay less, and I am happy to get paid for my work”, he says. “Too many of my colleagues complain about clients who demand services but refuse to pay for what they have already received, much less for future work. My clients are treated fairly from the outset, and so they treat me fairly. That is our contract from the beginning. We are all much happier.”

Mr. Holcomb is a trained Collaborative Divorce professional, offering “out of court” divorce services. He has 24 years experience as a divorce and civil litigator in all the Northern California courts. He is available for mediation, litigation and pre-marital and post-marital planning.

Mr. Holcomb offers a fixed fee initial consultation at either his main South Berkeley or Walnut Creek office.

Via EPR Network
Law press releases