It is difficult to make a realistic estimate of the total attorney fee for your case. Remember, when you are in litigation, there are many people involved – you, the other parent/party, your lawyer, the other lawyer, the judge, and possibly a lawyer appointed for your children. We are unable to control the actions of the other parent/party, the other lawyer or the judge. The total attorney fee for your case will depend on the actions of each of the people involved, and on what you desire.
If you and the other parent/party want to settle your case, make compromises and end the matter quickly, we will help you do that to the best of our ability.
If you do not trust the other parent/party –or they do not trust you– the process will often become long, drawn out, and expensive. This process often includes what we refer to as “full” discovery and usually more than one or two court appearances.
In the end, going to trial is always more expensive than settling the lawsuit.
In addition, you should be aware that litigation is not just expensive monetarily. It is also expensive emotionally and with the amount of time you must commit to it:
YOUR TIME: In addition to paying your lawyer to spend time preparing your case, you will also have to spend your time to prepare your case. You must make a commitment to put the time you need into your case. It takes hard work. We will guide you in this process, but if you are not prepared to spend the time and do the work, then your case will not be as satisfactorily or inexpensively prepared as it will be if you make the expenditure of your time.
Abraham Lincoln’s Notes for a Law Lecture dated July 1, 1850, provide in part as follows: “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser — in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough. Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than one who does this…. A moral tone ought to be infused into the profession which should drive such men out of it….” (Lincoln, 1953) I would like to point out that, among other things, Abraham Lincoln specialized in family law.
EMOTIONS: Most litigation involving family law generates an emotional roller coaster for everyone involved. Many health professionals will tell you that going through a divorce or having a child custody issue is one of the most painful experiences you can have, and some even say that you lose up to 30% of your IQ points during the divorce process! Sometimes a party to the lawsuit will use emotional manipulation as a way of “punishing” the other parent/party. For example, sometimes one party raises issues for the sole purpose of dragging the matter out as long as possible. The more issues raised, the more painful (and expensive) the process can become. We will sometimes recommend counseling for you or your children as a means to assist you through the litigation process.
In 1984, Warren Berger, then Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, while speaking about the American legal system to members of the American Bar Association, said, “Our system is too costly, too painful, too destructive, too inefficient for a truly civilized people. To rely on the adversary process as the principal means of resolving conflicting claims is a mistake that must be corrected…. The obligation of our profession is, or has long been thought to be, to serve as healers of human conflicts.” (Burger, 1984)
MONETARILY: Preparing for and trying a lawsuit is very expensive. We encourage you to analyze the issues in your case at an early stage and determine which ones can be settled. We do not recommend making unreasonable or unnecessary concessions, but we do recommend you look carefully at the issues that separate you and the opposing party carefully. We are able to assist you in this process. You do exercise some control over the issues in your case. Therefore, if there are concessions you can make that would bring your case to a speedy and satisfactory conclusion, you should consider making them. We recommend discussing these concessions with your attorney before you make them. Remember, though, that litigation often begets further litigation, and attorneys charge for their time.
In 2006 during her comments to the Texas State Bar Association, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said: “The courts of this country should not be the places where resolution of disputes begins. They should be the places where the disputes end after alternative methods of resolving disputes have been considered and tried.”
WILL I WIN? Sadly, no one “wins” in a family law case. We will raise the issues of which you inform us to the best of your advantage during your litigation. To do this you must communicate openly and honestly with us. We also strongly encourage you to keep some kind of “diary” or “notebook” to assist you both in communicating with us and in keeping track of important developments in your case. Please note that our approach to child custody and family law litigation is always to act so as to not make a bad situation worse. We will work to defuse tensions, avoid hostility, and maximize the ability of you and the other party to arrive at a fair and reasonable settlement. Many studies and our own experience show that a negotiated agreement between the parties serves both parties and their children best. An agreement allows the parties to “fine tune” matters between themselves in a way that courts are often unable to do. The court will never know your family’s needs as well as you do. Therefore, it is always prudent to work out a settlement if possible. No settlement will be reached without your direct involvement and consent. Not every case is able to be settled. When the case does not settle despite the best efforts of the attorneys and parties, we are well qualified to represent you at trial. In our experience, only a small percentage of cases do not reach settlement.
I Need a Really Tough Attorney; Are You Tough Enough?
Some people feel that to be a “fighter,” an attorney must (1) be uncooperative with opposing counsel in such matters as disclosing information, disclosing documents, and arranging for convenient dates for meetings, depositions, etc; and (2) never advise compromising with or negotiating with opposing counsel. This notion is sadly misguided. Being uncooperative with opposing counsel greatly increases your attorney’s fees, as well as your emotional cost for the case. At times it will seem to you that you are “always” on the defensive. At other times it will seem to you that the roles have reversed. Just remember, the choice of a lawyer is yours. If you are not satisfied with your lawyer’s performance on your case, please bring your concern directly to your lawyer’s attention with as much specificity as possible – most lawyers want to help you to the best of their ability. We will work with you to resolve any issues you may have.
Tips for minimizing your attorney fees, click here.
To make an appointment, please call us at 816-256-5440.
We are available to help you with your family law or estate planning needs in the following Missouri counties: Platte, Clay, Jackson, Buchanan, Andrew, Clinton, DeKalb, Holt, Nodaway and Ray.
We are available to help you with your family law or estate planning needs in the following Kansas counties: Leavenworth, Wyandotte, and Johnson.
Kiske Law Office, LLC
10525 N. Ambassador Dr.
Kansas City, MO 64153
Kiske Law Office, LLC
1911 Jules St.
St. Joseph, MO 64501
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Office hours: Monday-Thursday 9 am – 5 pm and Friday 9 am – 3 pm
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