Wesley W. Legg - Experienced Chester County Family Law Attorney
We're often asked certain questions about family law and about our practice. We invite you to review some of our Frequently Asked Questions for answers to some of your concerns.
- Do you offer free consultations?
- What does it cost to hire you as my attorney?
- What types of payment does your office accept?
- Can both parties use the same lawyer to represent them in family law matters?
- Can I get "legally" separated from my spouse?
- What are the residency requirements for obtaining a divorce in PA?
- How long will my divorce take?
- Can I make my spouse pay my attorney fees?
Do you offer free consultations?
No, unfortunately I do not offer free consultations. I do offer a flat fee 1-hour consultation at $250.00. However, I believe that every prospective client deserves an in-depth consultation personalized to his or her particular circumstances.
What does it cost to hire you as my attorney?
My Office accepts an up-front payment known as a retainer. A retainer is money paid by a client in advance for work that will be completed on an ongoing basis from the initial consultation after the client hires us as their attorney. The retainer is a credit in your account with us, and we bill against that credit. When the credit nears depletion, it may need to be replenished; the amount of the initial retainer does not represent full payment for a client’s legal fees. It is virtually impossible to determine in advance the total cost for attorneys’ fees in a contested family law case.
When a client meets with us for the first time, I review their particular issue(s), evaluate their concerns, and begin to work a plan to reach a client’s particular goals. Rest assured that I work as efficiently as possible in order to keep your costs down.
What types of payment does your office accept?
My office accepts payment by cash, check, debit card, credit card (e.g., Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover) and other payment options, i.e., VENMO, Cash App, etc.
Can both parties use the same lawyer to represent them in family law matters?
Wesley will not represent both spouses in their divorce for ethical reasons, due to concerns about conflict of interest. Under the Professional Rules of Conduct by which attorneys must abide, parties can waive potential conflicts of interest in some circumstances, however, family law matters are not suited to that type of representation. Wesley cannot and will not represent clients in a dual representation format.
Can I get “legally” separated from my spouse?
There is no "legal separation," in Pennsylvania. You do not have to get court permission to live apart from your spouse. It is legal to live apart from your spouse.
The date of separation, however, is an important milestone in the divorce process. The date of separation is usually the date of filing of the divorce complaint, but living ''separate and apart’’ has a unique definition that has been described as the ''cessation of cohabitation, whether living in the same residence or not'', and''[i]n the event a complaint in a divorce is filed and served, it shall be presumed that the parties commenced to live separate and apart not later than the date that the complaint was served.''
What are the residency requirements for obtaining a divorce in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania has jurisdiction over divorce actions where one spouse has resided in the Commonwealth for at least six months immediately preceding the filing of the Complaint in Divorce. If the court discovers that it lacks jurisdiction in the divorce matter then the court will be forced to dismiss the case
How long will my divorce take?
First and foremost, every case is as unique as a snowflake. What does that mean, you ask? Well each case is unique as the parties involved; and there are a lot of different issues that determine how fast or slow your particular case may move forward. However, a “mutual consent” no-fault divorce can be as quick as about four to five months. There is a 90-day (three-month) "cooling -off" period after the complaint is filed. After the “cooling-off” period expires then both parties may file affidavits of consent and if all the economic issues are resolved, the divorce decree is entered. At the other end of the time spectrum a contested divorce can last years with the average contest lasting a year or more.
If you complete a "Separation Agreement" without filing it with the court, it is a contract between you and your spouse. But it is important to realize that "It is not a court order." While it may not be a bad idea to have a contract, it may be difficult to enforce; therefore, you probably will want to file your agreement with the court and ask the judge to order you and your spouse to obey it.
Can I make my spouse pay my attorney fees?
Generally, each party pays his or her own legal fees and expenses in a divorce. However, if your spouse has sole control of the family finances, and you have no access to funds to pay legal fees, you have a right to file a motion with the Court seeking a release of funds with which you can pay your legal fees.
At the end of the divorce, attorney fees may be treated as a liability incurred during the marriage and allocated between the parties as part of the property division. Moreover, the court can order legal fees to be paid by a party when the court believes that a party has behaved improperly such as failing to obey a court order (contempt of court). However, an order requiring one party to pay the legal fees of the other due to misconduct is rare; it most instances, each party is ultimately responsible for paying the legal fees incurred by his or her attorney.
Notice: Attorney Advertising. This website is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. The information provided on this website is for the limited purpose of introduction to family law concepts. It is always in your best interest to consult with an attorney before undertaking any legal action. There are many rules and exceptions not listed on this website. More importantly, the law changes frequently and it is the duty of an attorney to know and understand the changes in the law to better advise clients. A website is not a substitute for an attorney. However, you can use the information on this website to take the first step towards becoming an informed client, so you can ask the important questions of your attorney.
The statements in the Frequently Asked Questions page are based on current Pennsylvania Laws as of 2022 and are provided for general information and not to advise potential or current clients. The statements are general and may or may not apply to your particular case.
If you have further questions, we invite you to contact the experienced and qualified attorney at the Law Office of Wesley W. Legg. Please call to arrange your initial consultation (484) 401-7079.