This divorce involved custody of the parties’ two children and the division of community property. Mother retained one of our divorce attorneys because legal decision-making was an important issue she expected Father to aggressively litigate. Since the parties separated, it was very difficult for Mother to coparent with Father. Father delegated his parental authority to his current significant other and failed to timely respond to many of Mother’s attempts to make important decisions for the parties’ children.
Father retained an attorney and aggressively opposed Mother’s request for final say legal decision-making, as Mother anticipated he would. The family court ordered the parties to attend a parenting conference, but agreements regarding legal decision-making or parenting time were reached so the case was set for trial.
Throughout the case, Father’s attorney enlarged the litigation by attacking Mother’s character with baseless allegations, including untimely allegations of drug abuse. Unfortunately, this seems to be a rather common strategy employed by inexperienced or ineffective family lawyers in cases involving child custody. Not only can this strategy damage your client’s credibility, it can also result in financial sanctions. In this particular case, we argued that Father was unreasonable and requested that he be ordered to pay all of Mother’s attorney’s fees pursuant to A.R.S. § 25-324.
At trial, the family court quickly sorted through the property issues and the parties devoted most of the time toward the issue of legal decision-making. Father requested joint legal decision-making. We requested that Mother be awarded “final say” which would allow her to make important legal decisions if she and Father could not agree or if Father did not timely respond. The judge granted our request and our client was awarded final say decision-making. The judge also ordered Father to pay all of Mother’s attorney’s fees.
Cost Comparison: If our client had not recovered all of her attorney’s fees from the opposing party, our flat fee in this divorce would have saved her $15,275 compared to an hourly rate of $250.00 (a rate below market average for divorce attorneys in Scottsdale).