Divorce attorney Janet McCullar answers your questions.

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When should I hire a divorce or custody lawyer?

If you are separating from the other parent of your child, you should consult with a divorce or custody lawyer like myself. Sometimes these lawyers are generically called family-law attorneys. If you have received papers indicat- ing a lawsuit has been filed, do not delay! Contact a lawyer immediately because certain deadlines are triggered by the filing of a lawsuit.

What happens during a consultation?

A consultation is a time to meet with me to discuss your specific situation, and to receive guidance or strategy. It’s not uncommon for people to meet with me to discuss the problems they are having and to gather information about the process of a divorce or a custody case. Sometimes a consultation is all you need. During the consultation, I listen to you describe your situation and provide strategies or a process to avoid a lawsuit. I’m also listening to see if I am interested in working with you, and you should be doing the same with me. It’s important to find a lawyer who is a good fit for you, so don’t hesitate to meet with more than one.

Aren’t most consultations free?

No. Divorce and custody lawyers charge a fee for this important first meeting. During the initial consultation, I provide you with valuable information about how cases work and what I think should be done. Plus, I offer some initial strategies. Most lawyers charge the equivalent of one hour of their time, so that cost can vary, depending upon the lawyer’s experience. If you want to consult with me, I charge $550 per hour. I have associate attorneys that charge less per hour, but many people want to meet with me first, even though they may end up working with my associates.

What should I bring to the consultation?

You don’t have to bring anything. However, you may want to bring any legal papers that you have received or a copy of your last order. Sometimes people want to bring other documents for me to look at, and I’m happy to review whatever anyone brings with them to the consultation.

What should I ask during the consultation?

I love when someone comes to a consultation with a list of questions to ask me, but it is OK if you don’t have any but just want to hear what the process of divorce might look like or whether you should change lawyers or file a custody suit. There is often a big disconnect between what lawyers tell you on their websites and what you might want to know. For example, most lawyers will tell you where they went to law school, every paper they have ever written and what other lawyers think about them. Most clients want to know whether the lawyer will return calls, has experience doing exactly what they need and what other clients think of the lawyer.

How much is my case going to cost?

This is a very difficult question to answer because when you hire me, my team provides you with a service at an hourly rate. It’s hard to say how many hours it will take for your case because there are a lot of factors that can affect the cost of the case. I tell potential clients that it’s a costly process and discuss ways we can minimize expense. It’s import- ant to me that my clients are good stewards of their money. I want them to review their bills and understand what I’m doing on their behalf and to ask questions when they don’t understand. There is no charge for asking those sorts of questions.

Janet McCullar is a nationally respected trial attorney known for her skill and success in the courtroom. She has represented clients in hundreds of complex divorce and custody cases. Although she represents clients during trying times, her cases are routinely resolved amicably to save the client the time, cost and pain involved in litigation. McCullar is board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She was also selected as a fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, an organization that consists of the nation’s top divorce attorneys.


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