Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a retainer and is it required?
A retainer is a financial deposit that covers future legal fees. The retainer amount is determined during your initial consultation and once paid it will be placed into a Client Trust Account as required by the State Bar of California. Once the attorney begins working on your case, payment will be deducted from the account. Once the trust account is depleted it is the client’s responsibility to replenish it. Retainers protect the client from incurring bills which they cannot afford and they protect law firms by ensuring that they will be paid for the work which they have performed. At Hawkins Law a retainer is required for all Family Law related services. All of our Estate Planning services come with flat rate fees wherein half of the quoted price will be required to be paid up front and the other half of the quoted price will be due upon completion of the project.
2. How much does it cost to get divorced?
Just to file the necessary paperwork to initiate a divorce in California, the State requires you to pay a filing fee of $435. From there, it all depends on the individual case. Contested divorces are much more expensive than uncontested divorces. A contested divorce is one in which the couple does not agree on certain aspects of the divorce and they must rely on the court to settle the dispute for them. You are not required to hire an attorney to handle your divorce, however, many people do for contested divorces because so much is at stake. In Fresno County, nearly all attorneys charge hourly for their divorce services. Hourly rates range (that we have seen) between $250/hour to $400/hour. Each attorney working on an hourly basis will require a retainer to be paid up front. (For information on what a retainer is, see #1.) Contested divorces will surely deplete the initial retainer at least one time. The general answer is that divorce is very expensive and can easily cost thousands of dollars.
3. Does Hawkins Law offer “unbundled” services?
Certainly. Unbundled is the latest term for a la carte services. In other words, perhaps you do not want to pay an attorney to do your entire divorce but you would like someone to write a persuasive letter, or, prepare your Points and Authorities, we can do that for you. Other examples of services that we can provide are: consulting on trial strategy, helping you admit items into evidence, propounding discovery, reviewing your paperwork to ensure it is properly filled out and ready to be filed. Hawkins Law is here to help you in any fashion. Call to schedule a consultation and we can form a relationship that best serves your needs while saving you money and hassle.
4. How long does it take to get divorced?
It used to be said that a divorce in California would take just over six months. That is not the case anymore. While that is still the law it is almost never the actual timeframe in which a divorce is resolved. In fact, we are starting to see this number is drift closer to 18 months. Things like your commitment to finalizing quickly, the opposing party’s commitment, the working relationship with the opposing party, financial ability to continue to pay for legal services, providing all of the proper documentation necessary to settle a divorce, dishonesty about finances and what you are willing to disclose to your soon-to-be-ex all factor in. For example, if someone is not truthful about all of their assets it will bring progress to a halt as discovery is propounded and the issue is litigated.
5. Does Hawkins Law accept credit cards?
We certainly do. All major credit cards are accepted.
6. Who will be working on my case?
At Hawkins Law, Erik will work on your case personally. Anytime you have a question or concern you can call or e-mail him directly. We also have an amazing support staff of highly trained professionals. As your case progresses you may elect to meet with Mr. Hawkins or with one of his paralegals. Only Mr. Hawkins can provide legal advice and represent you in court, therefore, he will always be there helping you traverse the sometimes foreign and intimidating legal system.
7. I work from 9 AM to 5 PM on Monday through Friday, can you accommodate my schedule so that I can schedule a consultation?
Absolutely! We are here to help you when you need us. With advance notice we can schedule your appointments after traditional business hours or even on Saturdays. There is no extra charge for these meetings. We know that our clients work hard and we want to make this process as easy as we can.
8. If I need to get in contact with Mr. Hawkins, how long will I actually have to wait to get a response?
Erik takes great pride in being available for his clients. Having said that, he is a family man first. If you need to speak with Erik but cannot catch him during business hours, he will call you back that same night after his children go to bed. That is why we always ask how late we can return your calls. If for some reason you cannot speak in the evening, Erik will contact you the following business day.