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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

You Get What You Pay For With Divorce Lawyers

Over the past several years, we here at the Law Blogger have noted several catchy marketing schemes involving divorce lawyers, especially from New York.  These schemes involve a bait and switch by promising a quick result for cheap, or just offering a divorce for an impossibly low fee.

Key word: impossible; at least in most cases. 

The first campaign we noted was touted in Manhattan as the "one-hour-divorce" for about $500.  For the low fee, clients meet with a paralegal and lawyer at the NYC firm to provide their personal information.  The details of their settlement are also, briefly, discussed.

The clients are next provided a ten dollar gift certificate to either McDonald's or Starbucks to burn-up the last hour of their ill-fated marriage while the law office prepares the canned document package for a "one-size-fits-all" divorce.

You cannot have issues, however, or it will cost you extra. The basic premise is that the divorce has to be absolutely 100% "pro confesso" (i.e. uncontested). Basic input is collected from the client and a set of pleadings are prepared within the alotted hour. A standard judgment is generated and executed for entry and filing with the court at the appropriate time, usually six months.

Hopefully nothing changes during the statutory wait period, or all bets are off. Also, under general rules of legal ethics, the firm could not represent both parties to the divorce; but they've apparently figured out which one is their "client".

If the divorcing couple has children, property, or needs support, these issues can be handled in an hour; but will cost more than double. A Prenuptial agreement would all but disqualify the client from the discount program, although a "conventional" divorce would still be available.

Not to be outdone, there is a storefront in Brooklyn that has a sign advertising divorce for $399.  It turns out that this storefront is not a law firm, but rather the office of a paralegal that merely acts as a scrivener for the divorce forms required by New York state laws. 

For the stated fee, the paralegals will assist you in the completion and filing of the forms which are then filed with the court.  Then, it's "up to the judge".  Translation: you are on your own.

This advertised fee is also a classic bait and switch.  Not only are there extra fees for just about everything, you also need to pay filing costs and court fees. 

Apparently, the idea behind the sign is to get you in the door for the advertised low fee.  Once inside, then you learn that you, like 99% of the rest of the population, do not qualify for the low fee, but for a few hundred more bucks, they will take care of you.

It is "buyer beware" for these outfits for sure.

Here in Oakland County, we here at the Law Blogger and at Clarkston Legal, believe that the most important asset of any divorce lawyer is their reputation.  If the attorney is experienced and gets good results, it will be reflected in their fees.

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Blogger Layne Adams said...

Hi there, nice post. This is an interesting and very informative topic. Thanks for sharing you thoughts on this issue. Keep it up, looking forward to read another one in the future. Cheers!
Family law issues usually carry with them heavy emotional burdens for all parties involved. The last thing you need is a lawyer who is not available for questions, who takes days to return your phone calls or who doesn’t understand what you’re going through.

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April 21, 2013 at 9:45 PM 
Blogger leganto prey said...

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April 25, 2013 at 8:12 PM 
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Blogger Maria J. Calhoun said...

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May 16, 2013 at 9:27 AM 
Blogger Sillowine sanderson said...

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July 30, 2013 at 5:52 PM 
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August 16, 2013 at 1:02 PM 
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November 27, 2013 at 5:50 AM 
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May 5, 2014 at 4:15 AM 

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