Divorce is not easy, and it usually requires professional assistance from an attorney. When hiring a divorce lawyer, consider affordability, experience and personality. The details of your divorce are important when choosing an attorney. Our partners at ConsumerAffairs researched the best divorce lawyers in Bakersfield to help find a trusted advocate to stand up for your rights.
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California is a no-fault divorce state, which means the party filing for divorce does not have to prove the other spouse has provided grounds such as abandonment or adultery. The filing party only has to claim irreconcilable differences between the spouses.
The most significant factor in how a divorce proceeds is whether it’s contested.
Uncontested divorces are ones in which the spouses agree on the terms of the divorce. These divorces do not need to go to trial and are generally simple and straightforward. Although it’s possible to finalize an uncontested divorce without an attorney, it’s a good idea to meet with one to make sure you file everything correctly.
Contested divorces occur when the two spouses do not agree on the terms of the divorce. These are longer, more difficult affairs and generally require hiring an attorney to make sure your interests are protected.
If a divorce is contested, there are multiple ways to reach an agreement or settle the terms of the divorce, depending on how much the spouses are willing to cooperate. Common methods to settling divorce terms in Bakersfield include:
Mediation uses a neutral third party to help the spouses agree to divorce terms. The mediator does not make any decisions but works with the divorcing couple to come to an agreement they feel is fair to both sides.
Arbitration also uses a neutral third party, but an arbitrator can make binding decisions on issues regarding child custody, the division of property and other divorce terms.
Collaborative divorce proceedings have both parties hire attorneys who work with the divorcing couple to agree to terms outside of court. If the couple is unable to agree and choose to move to litigation, they are required to hire new attorneys.
Litigation is the final step in a contested divorce. The proceedings are a matter of public record and a judge makes a final decision on the terms of the divorce. Litigation is the most time-consuming and expensive divorce option.
The cost of divorce lawyers in Bakersfield
Attorneys in Bakersfield generally charge an hourly rate for services. The average hourly rate for divorce lawyers is around $250, but that number ranges between $75 to $600 an hour or more, depending on the attorney’s experience. Most lawyers divide the hour and charge by increments of minutes (typically six or fifteen). Some lawyers charge a flat fee for common types of cases.
Many lawyers in Bakersfield ask for a retainer, which is an agreed-upon fee that covers expenses for your case until it’s resolved or the retainer runs out. The retainer agreement outlines how you are billed. Read the agreement carefully and ask about court fees, hourly rates for the attorney’s office staff and any other charges that might accrue during your case.
Choosing a divorce lawyer in Bakersfield
Most attorneys in Bakersfield offer a free consultation, which gives you an opportunity to speak with several different attorneys before choosing one to represent you during your divorce.
Although affordability is always an issue, it’s not a great idea to choose a divorce attorney based solely on price. Make sure you’re comfortable with the lawyer and that they have experience in the relevant type of divorce. If you and your spouse are planning to settle through mediation or arbitration, you don’t want an attorney who focuses on litigation.
Use your consultation to discuss payment expectations so you clearly understand your likely costs. You can also ask about additional aspects of your case to make sure the attorney is comfortable handling them. For cases involving child custody, speak to professionals that are versed in family law. If many high-value assets are at stake, you want an attorney who has experience with the division of marital property.
Other questions you might want to ask are:
How often the attorney will communicate on your case’s progress
How much experience the attorney has
Whether the attorney has a skill area or specialization
If the attorney has experience with child custody and support
The California State Bar licenses lawyers to practice in the state. Consumers can check the licenses of lawyers they are considering hiring. The website also provides basic information on divorce for California residents.
Azemika & Azemika
Azemika & Azemika is run by two brothers exclusively devoted to the field of family law, including divorce, child custody, child support and division of marital property. They have been practicing for more twenty years and are active members of the Kern County Bar Association. Bakersfield clients find the lawyers to be honest, helpful and reliable.
Paige Etchevery-Barnes Law Office
Etcheverry-Barnes specializes in family law and has more than twenty years of experience in divorce and child custody cases. The firm counsels you on options for litigation or marital settlement agreement. Reviewers in Bakersfield like the professional, friendly staff and how quickly the firm answered any questions.
Law Offices of Borton Petrini LLP
Borton Petrini has offices throughout California, including one in Bakersfield. The firm has attorneys who specialize in a variety of areas, including divorce and family law. The firm also has experience with military divorce cases. Bakersfield residents say they appreciate the firm’s attorneys for listening carefully to their case before providing recommendations.
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