In an earlier post I offered to share certain provisions of a generic Property Settlement Agreement to highlight both why such provisions are typically included in professionally drafted agreements and how such provisions can be helpful to parties and lawyers. Most of the provisions I’ll share are considered “boilerplate;” similar provisions appear in virtually all well drafted property settlement agreements. Naturally, while these provisions may be helpful to include in an agreement, collectively they are no substitute for a comprehensive agreement drafted by an experienced family law attorney.
A common provision missing from many client-drafted separation agreements (and some divorce lawyer-drafted agreements as well) is a provision regarding attorney’s fees for enforcement.
ENFORCEMENT OF PROVISIONS OF AGREEMENT. The parties agree that any reasonable expenses incurred by a party in the successful enforcement of any of the provisions of this Agreement, or in taking action as a result of the breach of this Agreement by the other party, whether through litigation or other action necessary to compel compliance herewith, or to cure such breach, shall be borne by the defaulting party. Any such expenses incurred by a party in the successful defense to any such action shall be borne by the party seeking to enforce compliance. “Reasonable Expenses” as referenced herein shall include, but not be limited to, counsel fees, court costs, and expenses of travel.
Such provisions give teeth to the agreement. If a clear breach exists, the “innocent” party benefits from knowing his/her reasonable costs will likely be shifted to the other party when the breach is proven. If, on the other hand, the breach is less clear, the “innocent” party might pause to consider the prospect of paying the other side’s costs if the breach cannot be proven.
Note also that “reasonable expenses” will often vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and often from judge to judge. A court may award you some, none or all of your expenses depending upon the particular circumstances. If you’ve got questions about property settlement agreements and/or attorney’s fees, feel free to drop me a line.
Jason A. Weis, Esquire – Curran|Moher P.C. – firstname.lastname@example.org – 3554 Chain Bridge Road, Suite 100, Fairfax, VA 22030 – 571-328-5020.
Somehow, someway I was convinced to participate in this brief video about things to consider when selecting a divorce attorney. 100% off the cuff, though there were a few takes to deal with the occasional telephone call interruption and technical failure. With a script, lighting, make-up and a professional camera, perhaps the next one will be better. Enjoy.
Jason A. Weis, Esquire – Curran|Moher P.C. – email@example.com – 3554 Chain Bridge Road, Suite 100, Fairfax, VA 22030 – 571-328-5020
Some Keys to Minimizing Your Attorney’s Fees
Surely you’ve heard the phrase, “You can catch more flies with honey.” Well, a recent study confirmed something many successful negotiators already know: flattery, even when feigned, has value. For example, tell someone you like the way they dress or think they are smart, and they are more likely to look upon you favorably, even if they know you are being insincere. This approach, reports Scientific American, works because it feeds into the “above average effect,” a view held by most people that they are above average (even though it is statistically impossible).
Marketers have also long embraced this practice. In a different study, researchers in Hong Kong asked subjects to rate the appeal of a hypothetical new department store after looking at a promotional advertisement that directly praised the reader’s fashion sense. Even after acknowledging the flattery’s transparency, subjects rated the store more positively and said they were more likely to shop there. If someone tells us we look good, research says, we believe it, even if the smooth talker’s motivation is clear.
Many elements impact the costs of a divorce. In nearly all cases, divorce attorneys bill by the hour. In Northern Virginia, the typical hourly rate for an experienced divorce attorney is between $250 and $650. The fewer issues on your proverbial “divorce table,” the fewer hours your attorney will require to assist you and the lower your costs will be. Choose carefully the issues you intend to “take to the mat;” consider when to use your attorney and when to simply play nice. Pause and reflect for a moment before ending communications to your spouse with a pejorative comment or insult. Reasonable disagreements arise during every divorce and attorneys can play an integral role in presenting you position to a judge for determination. But, many issues can be resolved quickly, cheaply and (somewhat) painlessly by simply being cordial.
Kindness, however, has its limits. When your issues have been suitably limited, take a moment to examine your retainer agreement. As a client (or potential client), it is unquestionably worth your time to read your retainer agreement and understand how you will be billed. For example, many attorneys have minimum time charges for certain tasks like travelling to court, drafting pleadings, leaving voicemails and such. If your attorney bills in .2/hour increments, it behooves you to stockpile your daily divorce issues into a single email or telephone call as opposed to writing him/her five separate emails or calling many, many times. Do your own “grunt work” like typing and copying. Give your attorney comments in “soft form” so he/she can cut and paste them as appropriate.
There are many other ways to minimize your attorney’s fees and costs associated with divorce. If you have questions or comments about this topic, feel free to drop me a line.
My experience and background reflect the hallmarks of success one must demand of a lawyer in Northern Virginia’s legal landscape. As a native of this area, I have here focused my practice on providing sound and balanced representation to clients navigating the difficult legal waters of family law, including contested divorce, custody, visitation, spousal and child support, and equitable distribution. More >>>
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Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I hope you find the information here as enjoyable to read as I find to write. Please note that reading this blog does not create a legal relationship between you and Jason A. Weis, Esquire or any other attorney associated with familylawva.com. Moreover, all postings on this blog are merely attorneys' commentary on the state of family law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. THE POSTINGS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE – if you have a legal issue or question, I strongly encourage you to contact a lawyer. I would be pleased to refer you to someone if I am able.