Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law

How to Pick the Right Divorce Lawyer with Ryan and Amy | Episode 136

January 05, 2023 Ryan Kalamaya & Amy Goscha
Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law
How to Pick the Right Divorce Lawyer with Ryan and Amy | Episode 136
Show Notes Transcript

January is known as “divorce month,” so if you’re facing a divorce now (or at any other time in the future), this episode highlights the most important factors to consider when selecting a divorce attorney. Because they are negotiating on your behalf, your divorce attorney is an extension of you, so choosing the person to take on this role is not something to be taken lightly. 

Every situation is unique, and there are so many different routes by which you can approach your divorce. From non-negotiables to red flags, this episode will equip you with all the information you need to find the right divorce attorney for you! 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The importance of choosing a lawyer that specializes in divorce and family law. 
  • Examples of different approaches taken by different lawyers.
  • Who you should ask for attorney referrals from. 
  • The value in looking at online reviews of attorneys. 
  • A reminder that your lawyer is not your therapist.
  • The importance of choosing a lawyer who you feel comfortable with.
  • Examples of red flags to look out for.
  • Why you should understand your lawyer's relationship with the judge in your case before you work with them.
  • An important reminder to talk about the financials! 
  • The median cost of a divorce in the US.
  • Factors that raise the costs of a divorce.
  • Examples of soft costs in a divorce.
  • Understanding the differences in the scopes of representation. 
  • Why you should find out the size of your potential attorney’s caseload. 

What is Divorce at Altitude?

Ryan Kalamaya and Amy Goscha provide tips and recommendations on issues related to divorce, separation, and co-parenting in Colorado. Ryan and Amy are the founding partners of an innovative and ambitious law firm, Kalamaya | Goscha, that pushes the boundaries to discover new frontiers in family law, personal injuries, and criminal defense in Colorado.

To subscribe to Divorce at Altitude, click here and select your favorite podcast player. To subscribe to Kalamaya | Goscha's YouTube channel where many of the episodes will be posted as videos, click here. If you have additional questions or would like to speak to one of our attorneys, give us a call at 970-429-5784 or email us at info@kalamaya.law.



Ryan Kalamaya (3s):
Hey everyone. I'm Ryan Kalamaya

Amy Goscha (6s):
And. I'm Amy Goscha

Ryan Kalamaya (8s):
Welcome to the Divorce at Altitude. A Podcast on Colorado. Family Law.

Amy Goscha (13s):
Divorce is not easy. It really sucks. Trust me I. know Besides. being an experienced divorce attorney, I'm also a Divorce client.

Ryan Kalamaya (20s):
Whether you are someone considering divorce or a fellow family law attorney, listen in for weekly tips and insight into topics related to Divorce co-parenting and Separation in Colorado. Welcome Back to another episode of Divorce at Altitude. This is Ryan Kalamaya. This week I am joined by Amy, my partner, and we're gonna be talking about how to pick the best Divorce lawyer. And if you're a business owner, if you're Eric Wolf, if you're Melanie Wolf. And on the cusp of a Divorce And, we see January, it's called divorce month.

Ryan Kalamaya (1m 1s):
But really strategically finding the right lawyer to represent your interests is absolutely critical regardless of the month. But when you're facing such an emotionally and financially complicated process, without experienced guidance, it can really put your wellbeing and future and present at risk. So enlisting the right lawyer from knowledgeable legal expert should be a top priority at times. This process, the Divorce process may seem intimidating, but it really doesn't have to be. And if you take some proactive steps to make sure that you hire the best help and avoid any possible pitfalls along the way, you're gonna be one step ahead of the game.

Ryan Kalamaya (1m 44s):
So in this episode, Amy And I are gonna talk about the important factors to consider when selecting a qualified attorney for your Divorce in Colorado. So Amy, what's the first tip or thing that people should think about when they are picking the best voice lawyer for Colorado Divorce?

Amy Goscha (2m 5s):
Well, I mean, first of all, you need to make sure you're finding the right lawyer. you know, so like for instance, you need a family lawyer and that can encompass a lot of things. When you think of a, about like a family lawyer, And I know if you're going through a Divorce, you're gonna be specifically looking for a divorce attorney. But you could think of a family lawyer's handling a lot of like family matters that could include, you know, estate planning, business planning. But you gotta make sure that the lawyer that you're picking actually, you know, does Family Law and does Divorce work. So that's really the, you know, the first thing that I would say because some lawyers will say, you know, like I do Divorce work, but maybe they have more of a generalized practice. So someone who really specializes in the area is important.

Amy Goscha (2m 48s):
What are some other things that you think are important?

Ryan Kalamaya (2m 51s):
Expand on that point a little bit. I mean, my dad was a lawyer. I grew up in Longmont Colorado, and my dad was a general practitioner. He personal injury, he did criminal defense and he did Family, Law, And, I, think Amy And. Today's, you know, day and age that the specialization is really the added value of lawyers. And so I think not only should someone look at a lawyer that specializes in Family Law, I think it really even goes further, especially up in the mountains or when you have business involved like Eric, Wolf, And, I, think the client, their prospective client should ask the lawyer.

Ryan Kalamaya (3m 31s):
And we're gonna talk about meeting with them about whether or not do they specialize in Parenting disputes or custody. Because Amy that's, you know, something, an emphasis of yours compared to my practice. Complex assets or business valuations, And I think also the approach. So do you want to maybe talk about how there can be different approaches among Family, Law lawyers or Divorce lawyers? Yeah,

Amy Goscha (3m 57s):
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that there's some lawyers that have, let's just say certain reputations. So for instance, within the Family Law framework, if you're looking for someone who, for instance, there's collaborative law, you know, and the premise behind that is essentially doing your Divorce in a collaborative manner and attorneys, you know, act in approach it in a certain way versus an attorney who is really aggressive and just likes to go to court, you know, and files a bunch of motions. So you wanna look at the attorney's approach, you know, and we'll talk about the interview process, but you want to understand what their approach is. Then you wanna make sure that that aligns with the approach that you wanna take.

Ryan Kalamaya (4m 35s):
Yeah, and the other point, we'll come back to the interactions with the lawyer. I think people should ask for friends and family for referrals. I mean, most of our work, Amy, it doesn't come from this podcast, it doesn't come from the internet, it comes from former clients and other attorneys. And if you have worked with an estate planning attorney, if you have worked on a business generating the corporate documents or a big real estate deal, go to your attorney and ask them for recommendations. Because we have trusted professionals that do estate planning And, we know we don't do that And, so we end up handing off those matters to people that we trust.

Ryan Kalamaya (5m 22s):
But I think that asking friends and family for referrals is really important. Anything you'd like to add on that point? Amy?

Amy Goscha (5m 30s):
Yeah, I think just, you know, when you're asking for referrals, you know, like if you're asking for from a professional, but also if you're gonna be asking from like friends or family, make sure it's someone that you know like you wanna emulate the same way that they are, you know, through their Divorce. So you're not gonna ask a family member who, you don't wanna be super litigious, you know, a family member that's known for being super litigious. So just making sure that you're aligning, you know, yourself with the approach and who you're hitting a referral from and that you trust them and also, you know, mainly trust them

Ryan Kalamaya (6m 4s):
To that point. Amy, the third kind of tip that we have is to check online reviews. And so maybe looking at those reviews to see the content about, I was involved in a knockdown, drag out Divorce that review by a former client might not be helpful if you are looking at a collaborative approach. And so I think looking at what people are saying about their attorneys, but I think those online reviews do shed some light, important light in today's kind of Amazon slash Google way of doing business that those online reviews I think do mean something.

Amy Goscha (6m 46s):
Yeah, And, I. Think also just looking at the date of those online reviews, And, we talk a lot about that, you know, like if you wanna understand what someone's work is like now hopefully they have some more recent reviews, not reviews from, you know, seven years ago.

Ryan Kalamaya (7m 1s):
Don don't think that that the online reviews to determine the best Divorce lawyer is the end all Beall. Because I mean privacy, I mean I have a bunch of online reviews, but there are a lot of people that I have helped. They, their privacy is of Utmo paramount, you know, is of the utmost importance and they don't want other people to know that they got a Divorce or they don't want to have that and So that. you know, I don't think that looking at online reviews, it could freak out people because they could be like, I don't want to go through a Divorce and just have, you know, my whole Divorce online. And that might be, you know, an expectation.

Ryan Kalamaya (7m 41s):
But I think that there are clients that are willing to tell their story, they're comfortable. Amy, you've talked a little bit about your Divorce on this podcast, And, I think that just knowing that there might be other information out there besides just the online reviews, but if you see just litany of complaints against a firm, then that might be a red flag for you.

Amy Goscha (8m 6s):
Yeah, and it's like anything, when you're trying to make a grip good decision, you wanna take information from various sources to ultimately make that decision.

Ryan Kalamaya (8m 14s):
Alright, so Amy the fourth point, meet with a lawyer and probably makes sense to meet with a couple lawyers unless you know you really feel a real connection. But I think you mentioned earlier figuring out who you are comfortable with that is the best Divorce lawyer for you. And so do you want to talk about maybe some things that you factored in through your own experience or other things that people might wanna consider when they're meeting with a Divorce lawyer?

Amy Goscha (8m 44s):
Yeah, so when, I mean just taking my own, you know, circumstance, I received the referral, you know, from a judge that I know from my attorney, my interview to you know, know a few attorneys, but the one that I hired, you know, like her situation and her life really resonated with me. Like she had a young child. I felt like she understood what it was like to have a young child. So I think, you know, like part of it is the lawyer's role is not to be, you know, the therapist. So they're not there to be, you know, your therapist, but you still have to make sure that they understand what you're going through. Like the, you know, I felt like having a lawyer who had young children could really understand, you know, like what a Parenting plan should look like.

Amy Goscha (9m 29s):
you know, just the challenges that being a professional and having a young child. So you know, those are some things that I looked at.

Ryan Kalamaya (9m 36s):
Yeah, I think, I mean for a business owner looking for, if you're looking at a big firm in Denver, the partner at a big firm is not running their own business. Whereas, you know, I certainly Amy you And I, it's the end of the year. We're having to go through p and ls and balance sheets and taxes. Having to live and breathe and run your own business I think is important for business owners. But I think people, there's a couple tips in terms of meeting with them. I think that people should be realistic. The lawyer is not your therapist. I think it is helpful to have that emotional connection in that, you know, having a background that is gonna resonate but really understand that they are not your therapist.

Ryan Kalamaya (10m 20s):
You should have a therapist or a Divorce coach to help you through that process. And really I think people need to stay focused on the goal and the goal is to get divorced, the goal is to be done and do it in the manner that they see fit and know what you want. You're not gonna get everything. No one gets everything you know, in their life. And then that certainly is the case in the Divorce. But I think really kind of thinking strategically, what is it that you want interview and identified, you know, several potential attorneys and then look for red flags. If the attorney is unwilling to accommodate your schedule, well guess what?

Ryan Kalamaya (11m 1s):
It's probably gonna be that way during your Divorce and that's going to really grade on you. If they're unwilling to do Zoom or teams, then again that might be something that is really important to you. If they don't follow up and thank you, you know, for the opportunity that might, you know, really matter to some people. And so some people they want to have the gray hairs, you know, behind the desk. Other people, they want accessibility and technological kind of innovation. And, I think that really those are the things that people can really look at when they meet with a lawyer to see if they're comfortable and, and how to determine who the best Divorce lawyer is for them.

Amy Goscha (11m 42s):
Yeah, a few more comments I would make that I think also is important is you have to be looking at, you know, this person is an extension of you and is negotiating on your behalf. Very important issues. So you kind of have to look at also, you know, like getting along with this person, but how effective is this person going to be as a negotiator with the other side and the other attorney. So sometimes depending on if the other side has hired an attorney, you know, like you have to take that into consideration when you're hiring your attorney. you know, so talking about, you know, if you're looking for an attorney and the other side has already hired an attorney asking questions like, well have you worked with this attorney?

Amy Goscha (12m 22s):
What is your working relationship like? you know, to to figure that dynamic out because to a Divorce attorneys who work well together, I mean that's huge. That can, you know, make or break a case that gets litigated for years or not, you know, So that I think is really important.

Ryan Kalamaya (12m 38s):
Right? And, I think I couldn't agree more Amy because there's certainly attorneys that I work really well with. We have a trust, we get things done a lot more efficiently. I think also knowing the judge and asking, I mean no one goes into their Divorce saying I want to go to a trial. And when people hear about the judge and the trial They say, well we're running, I'm not gonna go to trial. And but everything that is known between the attorneys about the judge factors into the guidance that they give their clients. And judges can really vary on how they view money and kids And I think a lawyer's familiarity with the judge and the other attorney is something that certainly people should ask.

Ryan Kalamaya (13m 26s):
And as you know, an extension of that, the fifth point is to talk about money and specifically how much the lawyer is going to charge and just give a general estimate or at least a discussion on cost. So Amy, what are things people should, you know, know or think about when going into a consultation with a lawyer and talking about how much a Divorce is gonna cost?

Amy Goscha (13m 53s):
Well I mean there's also, you know, you should recognize that there's various, I guess fee arrangements. So you can, you should ask about hourly, you should see, you know, is there a flat fee arrangement? Like what are the options for arrangement for fees? And then I also would ask, well you know, in your typical case, you know, I know that this is, you can't tell me exactly how much my Divorce is gonna cost, but what is the range? Like what is the range of what a Divorce can cost? you know, some of the expenses that people don't think about are, you know, expert costs or filing fees. Like there's additional fees related to Divorce, you know, not just the hourly legal fee or hourly rate.

Amy Goscha (14m 35s):
So it can get really expensive, you know, just because the US you know, I found this very interesting The median cost of a divorce in the US is $7,000. Like that seems very low to me, you know, so I think you know, like looking at those statistics is one thing, but also understanding how much, you know, like a Divorce cost, you know, with the person that you're hiring. I think it's really important to know that baseline.

Ryan Kalamaya (15m 2s):
Yeah, and the average Divorce cost is between 15 and $20,000. And that really, the meeting cost I think is the reason we have kind of do-it-yourself and there's a lot of do-it-yourself divorces. One could see this podcast and say, well I'm gonna do it all myself. And, I do think Amy that in Colorado, I mean was it's 70% of divorces are done without lawyers. And if someone is a salary, both people have a salary, they don't have kids, they've been married for a couple years, they can do it on their own. But I think people should understand that there's not a one size fits all price tag and that the more complicated a Divorce, the more it's probably going to cost.

Ryan Kalamaya (15m 50s):
And there's a couple factors into how much a Divorce costs and that is that if people are disagreeing on property, that's gonna make it more expensive. And when you are valuing, when you mention experts, if there's an owner of a business and it's closely held, it's not Netflix or Tesla or some other publicly traded company, you're getting it in into valuation issues. Same thing with Parenting. If there are child custody disputes, it results in more fees and more costs and so it can get, you know, in excess of a hundred thousand dollars and people are like, you know that, how Cal can that be?

Ryan Kalamaya (16m 33s):
And it really depends on how complicated, but I think the soft costs Amy, do you want to talk a little bit about soft costs involved in how much a Divorce costs?

Amy Goscha (16m 43s):
I mean soft costs could include like if you have to move homes or like if you need therapy, I mean therapy can get really expensive, you know, in a lot of cases that Brad And, I see maybe the child has a therapist, each parent has a therapist, there might be a family therapist. you know like when you're paying all of these professionals at an hourly rate, those you know, add up. So I think people forget, you know, they think about just the cost of the hourly rate of their lawyer. Like there's these other additional soft costs and I'm sure Ryan you could name even more

Ryan Kalamaya (17m 16s):
Changing insurance, changing cell phone plans and more importantly time. And when Eric or Melanie Wolf, our hypothetical Divorce clients come in Eric, if he is a business owner and or he's a lawyer and he bills at $500 an hour, the amount of time that he is spending on his Divorce, if he has to go to mediation, if he goes to trial, he has to factor that in And I think a lot of people they overlook that that's just from a straight monetary economic, but the mental costs in the long term financial costs, they can really be unexpected.

Ryan Kalamaya (17m 58s):
And if you share children, you know the transportation costs of them going back and forth, those when people, you know do, how much does a Divorce cost in their mind, they're not really factoring that in. And so Amy to their final point in terms of making sure people understand what's included in the cost of a Divorce lawyer, can you walk through the differences in, you know, scopes of representation? Cuz I know that you've been really involved in what are people left with? Is it just do it yourself, listen to Ryan Amy on a podcast and figure it out yourself? Or we spend a hundred thousand dollars, is it a binary choice like that?

Amy Goscha (18m 40s):
No, I mean thankfully no. And there's more options that are becoming available, which I can talk about, but right now we have full representation where you can hire a lawyer at an hourly rate or we also have fixed fee where you can essentially pay a certain flat fee amount to get, you know, through a certain part of the case. So you can hire a lawyer to say I'm going to mediation and it's gonna cost X amount. We also have what's called limited scope representation, which is you hire a lawyer as a consultant, maybe you've sat down with your spouse, you've figured out the Parenting time, you need some additional help and you need a drafter. You could hire someone like Ryan or me to essentially draft your Parenting plan or draft your Separation agreement.

Amy Goscha (19m 25s):
And, we also now are working on, in Colorado having a a limited license para paraprofessional who can come in, you know, and do work as well at a less hourly rate but can still give certain, you know, advice under a limited license. And there's also different avenues, like you talked about Ryan, the cost and the estimate on the cost is going to really depend on, you know, like where your Divorce ends up. Like are you gonna end up at a fully litigated permanent orders hearing, which is a final hearing or are you gonna be able to sit down, you know, both parties hire an attorney and you sit down in a four way settlement conference and you know, like reach an agreement. So it really just depends frankly on like where you're able to settle, whether it's in mediation, you know, arbitration, you know, some of those other options besides just, you know, like going to court.

Ryan Kalamaya (20m 18s):
Yeah, And I think that it depends on if someone's kind of quoting out prices. And I mean we have a website on our costs and that is something that we try to do to be transparent. And I think, you know, people should understand that, that it costs less to get a case settled if people come in with an understanding of what they want. If people agree to equal Parenting time for the kids then and obviously that's gonna depend is that what's gonna work for them? And if They say this is what we've agreed to, then it's going to, you know, and it's just, Hey lawyer, I'm going to need you just to draft this agreement.

Ryan Kalamaya (21m 3s):
That is a different scope of representation and cost compared to going to mediation or going to trial and having Depositions and all of that. And I think it is one of those things where people should, you know, if there's a marital agreement or premarital agreement, that certainly can factor in, but you know, people really should check that out. We'll have links in the show notes to some of the things. I think people can look at the various scenarios and see how much the Divorce costs from our perspective. But really I think it's being comfortable and trusting your gut and then figuring out who's going to match up well with you.

Ryan Kalamaya (21m 46s):
But hopefully these are things that people can think about when selecting the best Divorce lawyer for themselves and their family and their situation. Anything else? Amy?

Amy Goscha (21m 57s):
Yeah, I think besides, I think just the mental cost that's important to take into consideration. I'll also ask the potential attorney, like what is their caseload like? Like do they only take on certain number of cases so they have availabilities? you know, cuz when you're going through that process, part of you know that mental cost is being able to like have access to your attorney. So I think that's, you know, also important.

Ryan Kalamaya (22m 23s):
Well hopefully that's helpful information. Again, thanks for joining us on Divorce at Altitude. Hey everyone, this is Ryan again. Thank you for joining us on Divorce at Altitude. If you found our tips, insight, or discussion helpful, please tell a friend about this podcast. For show notes, additional resources or links mentioned on today's episode, visit Divorce at Altitude dot com. Follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen in. Many of our episodes are also posted on YouTube. You can also find Amy And me at Kalamaya.law or 970-315-2365.

Ryan Kalamaya (23m 4s):
That's K A L A M A Y A.law