Thursday, August 25, 2011
It's Turdsday. Shit I've Learned about Divorce #3: The Retainer
Think of divorce proceedings as a leak. Not water (oh, there will be tears, sure) but money. At the very beginning of the end of your world you will sign a retainer agreement or a retainer letter from your attorney. Mine is two and a half pages long--single spaced. I don't think I read it, and if I did, I don't remember reading it. This was my brain on grief. All circuits flooded.
My advice today is: READ YOUR RETAINER AGREEMENT. There are different types of retainer agreements, and you should know what type exactly yours is. I would suggest having a friend over for a cup of coffee or something not in the stimulant category--and having that good friend sit next to you on the couch, read the agreement, look you in the eye, and tell you what it says. Maybe even write in big block letters at the top of each page some key points. One very important thing your retainer letter will disclose is your attorney's hourly rates. The attorney's hourly rates might perhaps even figure into the choice of your attorney.
Here's what I've learned about hourly rates this week:
Appliance repair: $119.00
Painter: $30.00 Paint crew head guy: $32.00
Cabinet refinishers: (the special rate): $18.00
My divorce attorneys: $500.00 for the senior partner; $415.00 for the other partner
Read it and weep. Denial is a river in Egypt as they say. Step out onto dry land and realize that every conversation, every email, every phone call with your attorney will cost you money. You probably have homeowner's insurance, but I'll bet you don't have divorce insurance.
Oh, and another thing about retainers. The retainer might not even come close to what the final tab will be. The final cost to you may be--oh, ten or twelve times more. So, my dear potential dwellers of Divorceville, I hope you retain this advice. That's my toaster in the photo above. On the floor of my living room. I made breakfast there this morning. No big deal--compared to a divorce.
Just tryin' to give ya some tools.
Cuz it can be a mess.
My divorce advice disclaimer: I am not an attorney, a paralegal, or a legal secretary. Nor do I possess any legal education or credentials of any kind other than having been married to an attorney for three decades and immediately thereafter involved in divorcing him for the next four years. My advice is based solely on my own experience and falls under the broader life heading of Damn It, If Only I'd Known Then What I Know Now.