When parents separate, some of the most difficult issues to resolve concern the custody of their children. The issue of custody involves a wide range of questions, from where the children will live, how much time they will spend with each parent and who will make decisions concerning their care and welfare. Many attorneys view these issues as all or nothing propositions, with one party having “full” custody and the other party having limited visitation. This approach usually generates more drama, pain and, incidentally, more attorneys’ fees.
In many cases, parents can and do resolve the questions concerning custody and visitation by referring to prevailing norms and customs. When those norms don’t work for both parties, schedules and practices can be adjusted to fit each family. Steve Ashby is experienced at working out custody and visitation plans that work for both parties and serve the best interests of the children.
When one party will not agree to a reasonable plan of custody or visitation, then a custody battle will proceed to court for a judge to decide. In these cases, Steve focuses on presenting the judge with the information necessary to render the right decision. Many litigants want to focus on evidence and testimony that only serves to damage their opponent. In reality, most judges are more interested in the true best interests of the children, rather than battles between parents. By focusing on the children, a reasonable parent will usually get a better result than one who is focused on trashing the other parent.
What will all of this cost? Your total cost depends on the complexity of the case, and how combative the parents want to be. To begin with, your first telephone consultation is free. In that phone conference, Steve will help you to evaluate where you stand and where you want to be when the process is all over. Then, he can give you some idea of how long the process will take and how much it will cost. After the initial free telephone conference, Steve has a rate of $350 per hour. That is a lot of money, so Steve focuses on identifying your goals and working to achieve the end result as quickly and efficiently as possible. For example, in many cases, Steve Ashby will often utilize mediation to settle cases which otherwise would be headed to the courtroom for an expensive and painful confrontation. In your initial consultation, Steve will give you an estimate of the overall cost and will give you a quote for a down payment towards these expected costs. This is called a retainer. The retainer is paid into a separate escrow account, which is not touched until and unless legal fees or expenses are generated. Each month, you will be provided with a detailed record of the time expended on your case down to one tenth of an hour (six minutes). In order to keep your legal fees down, Steve Ashby will utilize his paralegal ($75 per hour) to perform routine tasks not requiring the intervention of an attorney, when possible. If the retainer is exhausted before the end of the case, you will be expected to deposit additional retainer amounts to keep the retainer balance at a specified minimum (usually $500) till the end of the case. Once the process is over, any monies left in your escrow account are refunded to you, so there are no “non-refundable” deposits.
In child custody cases the law provides that a court can order one party to pay all or part of the attorneys’ fees expended by the other party. This determination is within the discretion of the court, taking into consideration the relative financial positions of the parties. In many cases, we prosecute claims for attorneys’ fees for our clients. In this way, a party is not penalized because he or she has less money on hand than the other party.