Re:  Change of Case Needs and Why a Time Sensitive Payment is Needed

Dear Sir or Madam:

This letter is written to help explain why the status of your case payment has changed and is now time sensitive for your continued legal services.

The process of an agreed divorce is very predictable to your lawyer at the Cook & Cook Law Firm.  When the case is agreed, we control how the case starts, runs, and the timing of when it ends.  Because we control the entirety of the case, we have a very good idea of amount of time needed to handle your matter, and for that reason, we can offer flat fees for most non-complex estate cases.

However, sometimes, after you have paid for your agreed divorce your case may become what is called a “contested” divorce.  This is a divorce that is no longer agreed–

When we say your case has become “Contested” this means any one (or sometimes more than one) of 4 different things has occurred:

  1.  Your spouse disappeared;
  2. Your spouse will not sign the papers and is causing unreasonable delay;
  3. Your spouse and you do not agree on the terms of divorce any longer;
  4. Most common: Your spouse has hired a lawyer other than a review only lawyer.  This means a lawyer has reached out to our law firm and has asked to talk to us, negotiate with us, has asked us for additional pleadings to be written or has asked us to appear at a meeting, mediation or hearing.

When any of the above 4 events occurs, the agreed flat fee divorce process will not work to get you divorced.

 We at Cook & Cook still have all of the necessary staff and resources in place to get you divorced, but your case is going to take more time and more resources to resolve than your flat fee provides.  The amount of time and money needed for your case, when any of these circumstances occurs, is unknown and cannot be predicted.

For this reason, because we do not know how many staff hours or how much Firm resources your case needs, to continue our work on your behalf, assuming we have docket availability, we will offer to continue your case on a retainer basis.

This means you will pay a set dollar amount, as established on our pricing page.  The dollar amount will be billed by the hour on an as needed basis for your individual case.

When your case becomes contested,  the funds needed for your case also become extremely time sensitive

Say you are going camping for three days and you are in charge of buying the groceries.

You buy three days of groceries.  You and your family go camping and eat the groceries that you bought.  Then three days in you, your camper breaks down and you can’t get home and you now have to camp for an unknown length of time.

Your three days of groceries were important because you needed to eat for those three days, but now you urgently need more food.  So, you will need to find food supply.  You can’t live on the food you already ate.

Legal fees in a contested divorce work this way too.  When the divorce was an agreed, we had the perfect amount of funds to handle your divorce, just like the perfect three days of groceries that you got for camping.  But, now your divorce supply has been used for steps that you did need not matter what, to get divorced, but now your case has even more needs that cannot be predicted, for a length of time that is unknown.  So to continue working we need funds as we are out of them.

But, very importantly, we are not asking you to start over with a full retainer payment as on our pricing page, but rather we are crediting you for the amount you paid because that money was used constructively towards reaching your end point.

The important thing is to hire a place, like our Firm, that is highly reputable and cares a great deal about honest billing.

 For the following reasons, the retainer payment is urgent, and if it cannot be paid, we absolutely have to withdrawal from our services.

In short, we need funds to be able to meet our legal obligations to you as our client and to meet our legal obligations to the state bar, as officers of the court.

  1.  When a lawyer reaches out to Cook & Cook, we have a legal obligation to timely respond to that lawyer on your behalf.  If we have not been hired with a retainer to correspond with the other lawyer, but are obligated to correspond we must either immediately collect the retainer payment for the service or must withdrawal from the case.
  2. When a lawyer sets a hearing on your matter, we have a legal obligation to prepare for and appear at the hearing. The hearing can be set in short order, which means that if we have not been retained to appear at a hearing, we must be immediately retained, so that we can meet the legal obligations of due diligence and zealous advocacy required of a lawyer.
  3. When your case becomes contested, a lawyer can serve you with discovery requests which have very important deadlines.  If we are not retained to answer discovery, we will not have the resources needed to advocate for you, and as such again we would have no choice but to withdrawal.

None of these services listed in 1-3 are services that the agreed flat fee divorce covers as the flat fee is specifically priced only to cover other divorce services such as filing the divorce and drafting the decree of divorce.

There are numerous other examples of why a divorce case retainer fee becomes urgent when a client’s case becomes “contested”.  For this reason, please understand that while we may very much wish personally to continue serving you and that we would like to offer you a longer grace period in making a retainer payment, we cannot.  Again, this is simply because we cannot control the actions of your spouse or their lawyer.

If you have question please reach out.  210-686-7622 or [email protected].  As you know, we are always here and ready to help.