Why Do Divorce Lawyers Charge Consultation Fees?

MLF Team

Many divorce lawyers hold confidential consultations with prospective clients. These consultations are usually short meetings for which the prospective client is expected to pay a fee. A knowledgeable divorce lawyer from The Millard Law Firm may be able to discuss the general law and process of divorce in Georgia during a consultation. Consider contacting them at (678) 319-9500 to schedule yours. What you discuss will be confidential.


What Is the Purpose of a Divorce Consultation?


Many people are confused about the law and their legal rights in a divorce. While divorce can be an emotional process, it is also a legal one. As such, divorce can affect many aspects of a person’s life, including:


  • Their property
  • Their debts
  • Custody and visitation of their children
  • Their living situation
  • Decisions regarding their children
  • Alimony
  • Child support


A divorce consultation provides an opportunity for a lawyer to sit down with a prospective client to explain the law to them and possibly offer to assist them through this process.


What Happens During a Divorce Consultation?


During a divorce consultation, divorce lawyers may do many things. Each consultation is different, depending on the lawyer, the potential client, and the circumstances of the divorce matter. Some clients have unique questions regarding divorce and preparing for divorce, while others have more generic questions. There are some basic areas that are commonly covered in an initial divorce consultation with a family law attorney.


Explaining the Law


During a divorce consultation, divorce lawyers may be able to explain various laws pertaining to divorce in the client’s state and clear up any misconceptions the potential client may have about the divorce process. A family law attorney in Georgia will often address the following legal issues during an initial consultation:


  • Residency requirement Georgia Code § 19-5-2 requires that the person filing the petition for divorce reside in the state for at least six months before they can file for divorce. New residents of the state who are meeting with a lawyer to discuss the possibility of divorce may have to wait to file to satisfy this requirement.
  • Grounds for divorce – While Georgia has several different grounds for divorce, the most common ground alleged in Georgia divorce petitions is that the marriage has been irretrievably broken. In these cases, the person filing the divorce petition must wait at least 30 days after serving the legal paperwork on the defendant before a divorce will be granted under Georgia Code § 19-5-3.
  • Property division – Georgia is an equitable distribution state. Therefore, the court has the discretion to determine how to fairly divide the marital property if the couple cannot decide on their own.
  • Child custody – If the couple has minor children, a divorce lawyer may discuss how the court must make child custody and visitation decisions in the best interest of the child. Georgia Code § 19-9-3 outlines a number of factors courts consider when making these determinations.
  • Alimony – If the spouses have substantially different incomes, a Georgia divorce lawyer may discuss alimony. Georgia Code § 19-6-5 provides several factors the court must consider when making decisions regarding alimony.


Additionally, a divorce lawyer may discuss the difference between contested cases, in which the spouses disagree about any of the subjects above, and uncontested cases, in which they reach an agreement on the subjects outlined above independent of judicial oversight, and simply petition the court to grant a divorce decree that codifies their terms.


Check for Conflicts


A divorce lawyer should check for conflicts prior to a divorce consultation. A divorce lawyer in Georgia cannot represent both spouses in a divorce case because their legal interests are inherently in conflict. Doing so would represent a conflict of interest as defined by the State Bar of Georgia. The divorce lawyer may review their records to make sure that they have not already consulted with the other spouse if they did not already do this during the intake process.


Describing the Legal Process


A divorce lawyer may also discuss key steps to the legal process involved in getting a divorce, including:


  • Filing a divorce complaint
  • Serving the other spouse with legal notice
  • Preparing and responding to legal motions
  • Requesting and answering discovery requests
  • Participating in the mediation process
  • Having one or more hearings


Discussing Fees


The lawyer may also discuss their fee structure. Divorce lawyers are generally permitted to set their own fees as long as they are not unreasonable. What one lawyer charges for their services might be much different than what another lawyer charges. A divorce lawyer can explain how they charge for their services and what you can reasonably expect to pay.


Answering Questions


During a divorce consultation, the lawyer may also answer any questions you have about the legal process, your rights, and your options. Any answers they provide during the consultation are based on the limited information they have and may change if you hire them and they gain more details about your situation as you move forward with the divorce process. The Millard Law Firm may also be able to give you more tips about what to expect during your consultation and what materials you should bring with you to get the most out of the initial consultation.


Why Do Divorce Lawyers Charge for Consultations?


Just as you would pay a doctor for checking on your physical health, lawyers often charge for consultations to evaluate your legal options. They are doing work when they meet with you, and while some lawyers do offer free consultations under circumstances, in many cases an attorney will expect to be paid for the work they do when meeting with a prospective client to review their case.


When lawyers charge for consultations, they are investing time and resources into your case. The information both sides gather from the initial meeting can also go toward preparation for the case if you do decide to hire them.


How To Prepare for a Divorce Consultation


There are several steps you can take to prepare for your consultation and maximize its benefits, including the following:


  • Write down the basic details of your marriage, including the marriage date, date of separation, and where you were married.
  • Gather financial documents to provide a better idea about the property involved and the potential legal interests. This may include paycheck stubs, tax returns, bank account statements, investment account statements, deeds, titles, and a list of your major assets.
  • Set up a confidential way to communicate with your lawyer, such as creating a new email account, opening a post office box or using a phone that is not tied to your spouse.
  • Write down any questions you have about divorce, your legal rights, and your options.
  • Consider a plan for any children of the marriage. Who will they live with? How will you and your spouse make decisions for them? What is a viable parenting plan?


Contact Our Experienced Divorce Lawyer for a Confidential Consultation


If you would like to learn more about the divorce process and your legal options, consider contacting the knowledgeable divorce lawyers from The Millard Law Firm. We may be able to review your case and discuss your legal options during a confidential consultation. You can schedule your consultation by calling (678) 319-9500.