FAQ

Your consultation will be the first time you meet with a lawyer from Egan Law. During this meeting, the lawyer will explain the court process, what you should expect from the court  during your case and work with you to determine a strategy and plan of action. If there is already a legal action pending, bring at least the most recent court documents with you to the consultation (or email them over if your consultation is by phone or Zoom); we often like to see all of the documents you have in your file. If no legal action is pending, it is less important that you bring documents with you (in a family law case, however, tax returns and recent paystubs from each party can be helpful). To make the best use of your time with the lawyer, make notes of your most important questions or concerns so that we can be sure to go over those with you.
You will be charged a consultation fee of $250 for one hour of the lawyer’s time before your consultation. This is less than the least expensive lawyer’s normal hourly rate and, if you hire Egan Law, that consultation fee will be applied as a discount to your initial retainer. If you decide to hire Egan Law, you will be charged a retainer fee to hire the firm. This retainer  must be paid before we can represent you. A retainer is money that is placed in the firm’s attorney-client trust account. This money is yours until your file is billed and you have reviewed the bill to make sure it is accurate. Think of it as a security deposit against future work. We bill by the hour, and the time spent working on your case will be charged against that retainer. Normally the retainer will not be the final attorney’s fee you are charged; the total depends on how difficult the other party is about resolving the problems; how many issues must be litigated (i.e., taken to Court) and whether the case can be quickly resolved. The lawyers and staff at Egan Law are always happy to discuss your fees with you and we pride ourselves on complete transparency concerning fees, although we cannot tell you in advance the overall cost of your case.    We have worked during the pandemic to reduce the barrier to entry to hiring our firm by reducing the cost of the initial retainer wherever possible. This is meant to make it easier to retain us. Typically, after the retainer is used up, we ask that you pay your bill in full at each billing cycle. If you do that, then we do not charge an additional retainer in addition to the first one you pay. In other words, the initial retainer is a security deposit until we get to know each other. Once we have established a regular payment relationship with you, we do not seek out additional security deposit from you as long as you are paying your bill each billing cycle.   Finally, we take a credit card authorization from you to have you pay your costs associated with your case directly with no markup from us. Costs are things that are not attorney or paralegal time, such as filing fees, appraisal fees, court reporter and deposition fees paid directly to third parties. 
In American law, each party normally pays for their own lawyer, unless there is a contract or other written document saying something different about attorney’s fees. Family law is a little bit different. California law specifically provides that in some cases, to make sure both parties can afford a lawyer, the higher earning or wealthier party can be ordered to pay part, or all, of the other party’s fees. This payment is not automatic. Fee payments must be ordered by a judge which means that legal papers must be filed, and a hearing had to determine if a fee payment order is appropriate, and for how much. You will need to pay your  retainer so that these  papers can be filed, and a fee order requested.  If the other side is ordered to, and does, pay part or all of your fees; that money is credited to your account at Egan Law. Fee payment orders are also available for the prevailing party in a Domestic Violence Restraining Order case or if the judge decides the other party is making the case much harder to resolve than it needs to be.
This question is almost impossible to answer because so much of how long it takes to finish a family law case depends on factors we cannot control such as how busy the judge’s calendar is, how many things the other side wants to fight over, and how long it takes the other side to give us the documents required to complete the case. The typical (if there is really a typical) divorce may take a year or more to finish if it must go to trial; but could be done in a couple of months if the parties make an agreement. What we can control is how quickly we get started on your case, which is immediately after we are formally retained. We can also control whether your case is being properly monitored to make sure everything that can be done to make it move along is being done. At Egan Law the lawyers and the staff review each case at least weekly to make sure they are on track to resolution – by settlement or trial. You also have some power in getting your case done as quickly as possible- by listening to your lawyer about likely outcomes and not taking positions that make the case drag on without being able to legally support those positions. You can also help your case move along by being quick to provide the information we will need to work on your matter when asked. It is almost always in your best interests to resolve your case quickly and efficiently and we work to do that for you. 

There are two kinds of custody in California, legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the power to make decisions about the child’s health, safety, education, and welfare. This is normally joint (shared) unless you can show the court compelling evidence that the other parent cannot be trusted with equal decision-making power. It is very rare that one parent is completely unable to share decision-making power about important areas of a child’s life and even in cases where one parent is, for example, strenuously anti-vaccination, the Court will sometimes give limited sole legal custody to the other parent to get the child vaccinated (all courts in California will rule that children must be vaccinated if there is any dispute between he parents). Physical custody and parenting time (visitation) are about where the child lives. California law provides that both parents are equal and that neither parent can claim priority because of their gender, earning status, disability, sexual orientation, new partner, or any of a number of different categories. This does not mean that most cases end up with a true 50/50% time share. The judge will consider the more specific facts of your case (age of the child, work schedule of the parents, history of the relationship between the parent and child, any evidence of drugs.

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