Re: Divorce Case Engagement Letter
Our services will consist of not more than 10 hours of legal service to conduct the court appearances, telephone conferences, travel, investigative work, legal research, review of material received from all sources, drafting of pleadings and incidental correspondence, participation in settlement conferences, and other necessary preparation for Uncontested Divorce proceeding of __________________.
I. PURPOSE OF REPRESENTATION
1.01 The Client hereby retains and employs the Attorney to represent Client in the following matter:
Re: Agreed Divorce
IT IS UNDERSTOOD that this contract and fees below DO NOT include presentation of this case to any appellate court or preparation of motions ancillary to this representation including but not limited to a Motion for New Trial, Appeal to Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court of Texas or any other Court and does not include the expenses of preparing the record for appeal, if any. This contract also does not include any interlocutory appeals including but not limited to Mandamus proceedings. Furthermore, this contract does not include a subsequent trial in the event that the case should be retried after it has once been tried.
IT IS FURTHER UNDERSTOOD that this contract is for limited scope representation in that the attorneys obligations to client shall cease, and no refund shall be given in the event that the divorce becomes contested on any substantive issue, which requires mediation or litigation from attorneys, or any expenditure of time from attorneys above and beyond the terms of this contract exceeding that specifically contracted for herein. If any of the above are necessary, then client and attorney will consider the matter as a separate and distinct cause of action requiring a new fee arrangement.
THE FOLLOWING SERVICES ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THIS CONTRACT: child support withholding account work, customized custody provisions (unless otherwise specifically agreed to herein), complex estate division provisions (unless specifically agreed to herein), correspondence with any other lawyer in the case, title transfer documents beyond the decree, business asset divisions, real estate provisions, retirement splitting divisions, correspondence with your spouse beyond ½ hour of attorney time, more than 1 in court appearance for your final trial date. In the event that you miss your court appearance time slot, or cancel the court appearance within 24 hours of its occurrence, a surcharge of $200 will be applied to your account. Your spouse will not be formally served with notice of this divorce, because it is an agreed divorce, and your spouse will therefore waive service.
IF YOUR DIVORCE IS NOT AGREED: This contract will not result in a complete divorce for you if your spouse is unwilling to sign your divorce papers within 6 months of the date of hire. In the event that your spouse refuses to sign, we will try to work with you to make changes as your spouse request, for not longer than the contracted time as stated herein. If your spouse still refuses to sign your divorce papers, we will offer to try to finalize your case as a default judgement for an additional fee of $600, which will cover the cost of serving your spouse, and writing additional default affidavits as necessary to finalize the case. However, in the event that your divorce becomes contested in that your spouse answers the divorce, or hires a lawyer, this contract and service will not result in a final divorce.:
II. ATTORNEY’S FEE
2.01 Fee Arrangement: For and in consideration of the uncontested legal services rendered and to be rendered in connection with said case, Client agrees to pay to Attorney a reasonable flat fee in the amount of $_________(review pricing details on website, to know which applies). The payment must be paid to to secure the services of Attorney, to acquire attorney’s availability and to compensate attorney for diminished opportunities to be engaged by other prospective clients and Client understands and no work will begin until flat fee is paid in full. This fee is non-refundable upon your signature below.
THIS FEE ONLY COVERS AGREED DIVORCES. This uncontested fee includes drafting and filing the Original Petition for Divorce and paying the associated fees with filing the Original Petition, drafting a waiver of service and drafting an agreed final decree for divorce based on the agreement presented by the Client. For purposes of this contract an UNCONTESTED proceeding is one in which the Respondent is not represented by counsel of record (reviewing lawyer is fine) and both parties agree to the divorce settlement (this agreement is presented by client), which will be evident by the Respondent signing a waiver of service and the drafted final divorce decree as well as any other documents necessary to fulfill the divorce settlement. In other words, the client will present the agreement between the parties to the attorney, who will then draft the waiver of service, final decree and any other documents necessary to effectuate the agreement of the parties as presented by the client. Again, Respondent must sign the necessary documents to complete the divorce; however, if the Respondent fails to sign the documents and/or hires counsel to negotiate any terms of the divorce then the matter is considered CONTESTED. Because this matter is uncontested, Attorneys agree to spend up to 10 hours of legal work on this matter. Should client wish to have specialized drafting provisions added to his/her decree above and beyond the 10 hours included in this contract client will be offered the opportunity to purchase the drafting time at $200.00 per hour, as needed.
IF AT ANY TIME THE CLIENT DECIDES TO PUT THE MATTER ON HOLD, THEN THE CLIENT MUST NOTIFY THE ATTORNEY IN WRITING. FURTHERMORE, THE CLIENT UNDERSTANDS THAT AFTER 3 MONTHS OF THE MATTER BEING ON HOLD THE ATTORNEY WILL WITHDRAW FROM THE MATTER.
2.02 If the matter becomes CONTESTED, the client will need to immediately sign a Motion to Withdraw by Attorney, if it is presented to him/her. Client will be invoiced for additional services at $200 per hour if client fails to sign the Motion, requiring Attorneys to conduct a hearing for withdrawal. In addition to continue with Attorneys, client will be required to sign a new contract and additional fees will be necessary to secure the CONTESTED DIVORCE services of Cook & Cook Law Firm, PLLC. Attorneys have the right by the terms of this contract to decline to take client’s contested matter, and may decline to do so for any reason. Cook & Cook may not be able to continue to represent you for a contested divorce case, due to the caseload, and other obligations pending for the Law Firm. This means that if your case becomes contested, you may have to hire an outside law firm to represent you at that time.
3.01 THIS UNCONTESTED MATTER INCLUDES THE ATTORNEY’S FEES OF THE DIVORCE AND THE INITIAL FILING FEES FOR DIVORCE ONLY. This Flat fee does not cover any fees such as costs for certified copies and/or costs associated with property filings and/or name changes and/or any other fees as a result of additional court interventions.
IV. APPROVAL NECESSARY FOR SETTLEMENT
4.01 The Attorney is authorized to enter into any and all settlement negotiations on behalf of those whom the Attorney represents. This includes, but is not limited to, the Attorney’s prerogative to pursue cash or structured payment settlement negotiations.
4.02. Client grants to the Attorney a power of attorney to handle negotiations and settlement discussions regarding Client’s legal matter to the same extent as fully as Client could do so in person. This limited power of attorney further authorizes the Attorney to make payments to parties other than Client and Attorney for their services performed, fees charged or bills rendered in connection with representing Client, including but not limited to expert witness fees, trial preparation bills paid to outside services, court reporter fees, deposition fees, investigative services, costs of exhibits or other expenses incurred by Attorney on behalf of Client.
a. This expressly includes the right to sign Client’s name on and to any insurance company drafts, money orders, cashier’s checks, checks or other negotiable instruments made payable to the Attorney and Client, the Attorney, or to Client without the joinder of the Attorney, submitted to the Attorney on behalf of Client in full or partial settlement of this case.
b. This limited power of attorney further authorizes the Attorney to place the monies, referred to above, in the Attorney’s trust account and from that trust account, make distributions and payments to the Attorney for the agreed to fee stated above, reimbursement to Attorney for any and all expenses incurred by the Attorney in handling this case, payments to Client of Client’s interest in the monies recovered as stated above, and payments to parties other than Client and Attorney for their services performed, fees charged or bills rendered in connection with representing Client, including but not limited to expert witness fees, trial preparation bills paid to outside services, court reporter fees, deposition fees, investigative services, costs of exhibits or other expenses incurred by Attorney on behalf of Client.
4.03 No settlement shall be made without Client’s approval, nor shall Client obtain any settlement on the aforesaid claims without the Attorney’s approval.
4.04 Attorney is granted a limited power of attorney so that the Attorney may have full authority to prepare, sign and file all legal instruments, pleadings, drafts, authorizations and papers as shall be reasonably necessary to conclude this representation, including settlement and/or reduce to possession any and all monies or other things of value due to Client under this claim as fully as Client could do so in person.
5.01 It is expressly agreed and understood that no promises or guarantees as to the outcome of the case have been made to Client by Attorney. Attorney has not represented to Client that Client will recover all or any of the funds so desired. Client also acknowledges that obtaining a judgment does not guarantee that the opposing party will be able to satisfy the judgment and/or comply with the judgment. It is further expressly understood and agreed that no other representations have been made to Client, except for those set out in this Agreement.
VI. COOPERATION OF CLIENT
6.01 Client shall keep the Attorney advised of Client’s whereabouts at all times, and provide the Attorney with any changes of address, phone number or business affiliation during the time period which Attorney’s services are required. Client shall comply with all reasonable requests of the Attorney in connection with the preparation and presentation of Client’s legal matter.
6.02 Attorney will do his/her best to keep you advised on how the case seems to be progressing, based on information he/she has received from the court, from the other side, and from you. Attorney will send you copies of all pleadings and/or other court filings for your information upon request by the client.
6.03 The Attorney may, withdraw from the case and cease to represent Client for any reason, including without limitation: Client’s failure to timely pay fees and expenses or deposits in accordance with this Agreement, subject to the professional responsibility requirements to which Attorneys are subject.
6.04 Should Client fail to disclose a material fact of his or her case to Attorneys, or mislead Attorneys, or falsify information to Attorneys, of any nature, Attorneys will immediately withdraw upon such discovery and will not issue any refund of monies to client. Should Client fail to follow all advice and admonitions made to Client by Attorneys, Attorneys will immediately withdraw upon discovery of said action or omission and will not issue any refund of monies to client.
6.05 Should Client fail to respond to Attorney emails or telephone calls for over 30 days, Attorneys shall have the right to non-suit the Divorce case.
VII. ASSOCIATION OF OTHER ATTORNEYS OR SERVICES
7.01 The Attorney may, at Attorney’s sole discretion and expense, employ any other person or service that the Attorney believes is necessary to help or assist in this legal representation.
7.02 Should it become advisable to refer this matter or any part of this matter to another attorney or law firm, Attorneys will advise Client of any fee-sharing arrangement. This fee-sharing arrangement will include (a) the identity of all lawyers or law firms who will participate in the fee-sharing arrangement, (b) the basis upon which the fees will be divided among the other lawyers, law firms and Attorneys, and (c) the share of the fee that each lawyer or law firm will receive, or the basis upon which the division will be made. Attorneys will ask Client to consent to the terms of the fee-sharing arrangement in writing before the referral is made.
7.03 The rights set forth in this Agreement are subject to the professional responsibility requirements which regulate Attorneys.
VIII. TEXAS LAW TO APPLY
8.01 This Agreement shall be construed under the laws of Texas, and all obligations of the parties created hereunder are performable in BEXAR County, Texas.
IX. PARTIES BOUND
9.01 This Agreement shall be binding upon and inure to the benefit of the parties hereto and their respective heirs, executors, administrators, legal representatives, successors and assigns where permitted by this Agreement.
X. LEGAL CONSTRUCTION
10.01 In case any one or more of the provisions contained in this Agreement shall, for any reason, be held to be invalid, illegal, or unenforceable in any respect, such invalidity, illegality, or unenforceability shall not affect any other provisions thereof and this Agreement shall be construed as if such invalid, illegal, or unenforceable provision had never been contained herein.
XI. PRIOR AGREEMENTS SUPERSEDED
11.01 This Agreement constitutes the sole and only agreement by and between the parties. It supersedes any prior understandings or written or oral agreements between the parties concerning the subject matter discussed herein.
TAX DISCLOSURE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENT:
CLIENT IS ADVISED TO OBTAIN INDEPENDENT AND COMPETENT TAX ADVICE REGARDING THESE LEGAL MATTERS SINCE LEGAL TRANSACTIONS CAN GIVE RISE TO TAX CONSEQUENCES.
THE UNDERSIGNED LAW FIRM AND ATTORNEY HAVE NOT AGREED TO RENDER ANY TAX ADVICE AND ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ADVICE REGARDING TAX MATTERS OR PREPARATION OF TAX RETURNS, OR OTHER FILINGS, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, STATE AND FEDERAL INCOME AND INHERITANCE TAX RETURNS.
FURTHERMORE, CLIENT SHOULD OBTAIN PROFESSIONAL HELP REGARDING THE VALUATION AND LOCATION OF ALL ASSETS WHICH MAY BE THE SUBJECT OF A LEGAL MATTER INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO PENSIONS, EMPLOYMENT BENEFIT AND PROFIT SHARING RIGHTS THAT MAY BE CONTROLLED BY ANY OTHER PARTY TO THE LEGAL MATTER.
Attorneys, like other professionals who advise on personal financial matters, are required by a federal law (the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act) to inform their clients of their policies regarding privacy of client information. Attorneys have been, and continue to be, bound by professional standards of confidentiality that are even more stringent than those required by this new law. Therefore, we have always protected our clients’ right to privacy. In the course of representing our clients, we receive all manner of significant personal financial information from them. As a client of the firm, you are advised that all information we receive from you will be held in confidence and not released to outside persons, except as agreed to by you or as required under applicable law. We retain records relating to professional services that we provide so as to assist our client with their professional needs and, in some cases, to comply with professional guidelines.
By Signing this Document, You Are Consenting To Our Use of Email
Communication over the internet facilitates our ability to quickly manage your case needs. However, using traditional e-mail systems are not encrypted and are inherently insecure. Confidentiality of information transmitted this way cannot be assured. If you wish to instead communicate by mailing documents, please inform us so that we can collect your information and send you information in different methods than email. Please understand that if you do not use email to communicate with us, your case will take longer.
This firm is privileged to have this opportunity to be of service to you. I appreciate your trust and confidence, as well as your business. If you completely approve this agreement, please date and sign the original of this letter where indicated, return it to this office, and retain the enclosed copy for your file.
Cook & Cook Law Firm, PLLC
By: [Contract Not Valid Unless Signed by Lawyer of Cook & Cook Law Firm]
I certify and acknowledge that I have had the opportunity to read this Agreement. I further state that I have voluntarily entered into this Agreement fully aware of its terms and conditions.