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Frequently Asked Questions
- Do I need a lawyer?
- Yes, you almost always need a lawyer. Our system is not designed for people to represent themselves easily or adequately. Even if you can’t afford to hire a lawyer to handle your whole case, you should strongly consider getting some advice.
- What is a free consultation?
- Most Attorneys offer – Leigh Law included – free consultations. This is a 10-15-20 minute meeting in person or over the phone where in the attorney asks questions to determine the basis of your issue and if the attorney can help you. During a consultation we are trying to determine exactly what services you need and how much it will cost to resolve your problem. You as the client are determining if you like and think you can work with and trust us as your attorneys. A free consultation is not an opportunity for you to obtain specific advice so you can represent yourself. If you want to represent yourself, be upfront and ask for an hour of paid time to obtain specific advice and paperwork on what you should do to proceed pro se!
- Leigh Law offers a lot of services. Are you a jack of all trades, master of none?
- Yes, we practice in a variety of areas. Leigh Law is a general practice law firm and we attempt to help as many people as we can in life’s issues. Some areas of the law are very specific and do not lend themselves to a general practice law firm. Attorneys that practice in the area of bankruptcy or workman’s compensation or medical malpractice for example, tend to practice in only those areas. We do not offer services in these highly specialized areas; instead we refer you to attorneys who practice only in those areas.
- Most of the areas we are experienced in are very much related. We are very, very good family lawyers and a large percentage of our practice is in the area of domestic relations and family issues. The Family Law Division of Leigh Law is headed by Zibilla Wolfe. She focuses 100% of her practice in this area.
- Business, consumer protection, contract, debt collection defense, real estate, and estate planning are all very much inter-related and are based on the same principles of law. The General Civil Division and Criminal Division of Leigh Law are led by managing attorney Victoria Leigh. Her primary practice areas are in these two divisions of the law firm.
- Other areas such as personal injury or employment discrimination, we associate with other law firms to work the cases together. Sometimes the upfront costs are high or there is a lot of work to be done and working with other lawyers on the cases allows us to better serve the clients and defray some of the litigation costs. These are typically cases which are on contingency fee basis so the client has no upfront costs associated with hiring us and the lawyers don’t get paid unless we win!
- What is Limited Scope Representation?
- There is a substantial swath of society in need of legal services but unable to afford traditional retainer services but who are also not qualified for legal aid. We offer services to fit any budget – some advice and guidance is better than nothing. We have flat fees, payment plans, a la carte services, training so you can proceed pro se – we can do almost anything to get you help to fit your budget and to not be totally lost in the legal system.
- How much do I need to start?
- This depends on where you are in the process. If you come to us early, then we can get started and set a payment plan with less down. If it’s an emergency situation or things are happening quickly then you might need most or all of it up front. Typically, clients put half or 1/3 down and set up a payment plan for the rest. We send statements regularly, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you make your payments as agreed.
- How fast do I have to finish paying?
- This too depends on your case. We work on your case in direct proportion to how quickly you pay and if you keep your payment arrangement. We will not finalize a case until you’ve paid in full. We won’t set hearings if you haven’t reached benchmarks in your payment schedule. We work as much as we can with all of our clients, but we have expenses too and we have to work on paying cases first!
- Are all cases suitable for flat fees?
- No, not all cases can be billed on a flat fee basis. Most cases we can determine about how much time we will have in the case and assess a flat fee, particularly in the areas in which we practice most often. Sometimes, it is impossible to know if we will have 10 or 100 hours in a case – these are mostly litigation cases that are going to go all the way to a trial. In these instances, we have to bill by the hour. This is the fairest way for you and for us. This means that you provide a retainer payment to us and we keep track of all of our time and bill based on our time involved. We provide a monthly statement so you can see what work we’ve done specifically, what amount we’ve billed, and what you have left in your retainer.
- Are all cases suitable for payment plans?
- No, sometimes your case is so far along in the process before you come to us that there is no time for payment plans. If extensive work is required immediately in your case, then you will be required to put all or most of the fee with the office up front. We evaluate each circumstance individually and tailor our offerings to the specific needs of each client and situation. We typically also do not allow payment plans on felony criminal charges or criminal district court appeals.
- What is the difference between fees and costs?
- Fees are what you pay to us – the attorneys – for our legal services. Costs are expenses which are incurred during the case but are paid to someone or something else, such as court reporter costs, copy costs, process server costs, filing costs, summons costs. We keep careful track of fees and costs. We do not add to costs and clients are usually responsible for the costs associated with their cases.
- What is mediation?
- Mediation is a confidential, facilitated process with an experienced professional to help parties to a lawsuit or dispute come to an agreement. The parties themselves reach the agreement, which tend to have happier parties in the long run (not having a third party judge make decisions) and keeps costs and attorney’s fees down. It is not therapy or counseling. See our mediation page for more information.
- How much does a divorce cost?
- Divorces are like cars – you can buy a brand new Cadillac for $70,000 or you can buy a used Toyota on Craigslist for $1000! The price of a divorce depends on what services you need and how much time and talent the attorneys use in resolving your divorce. Are we fighting over custody? visitation?
- Our divorces can range from as little as $500 if you have no property and no children. We have designed divorce packages and most clients fall in the $1500 or $2500 package. We allow payment plans on those packages.
- What is an uncontested divorce?
- There are roughly eight (8) broad possible areas of dispute in a divorce. In most divorces, people are not disputing in all 8 areas. Divorces are on a continuum of “being contested.” An Uncontested Divorce is a divorce in which the parties are not disputing in ANY areas – everything is resolved and the parties are cooperating and will sign paperwork/assistance to obtain the divorce through the court system. Many times clients think they have an uncontested divorce, but it turns out they don’t!
- Can I give up my parental rights?
- Yes, and no. All parents have rights and obligations, which are not dependent on each other. The State has an interest in insuring that all children are financially supported. If there is a step parent that will take over, then it would be a step parent adoption. If the other parent wants you to give up your rights too, there would be a possible single parent adoption. But it would be very difficult – if not impossible – to accomplish if you are wanting to give up your rights to avoid paying support to the other parent.
- Does Joint Custody mean I don’t have to pay child support?
- No. Child Support is determined based on your income relative to the other parent’s income and your time spent with and money spent on the child(ren). Joint Custody can sometimes mean you don’t pay support, or it can just reduce your support from what it would be if the other parent were primary custodian.
- What is a QDRO?
- Qualified Domestic Relations Orders are special legal orders required after a divorce to divide investment or retirement assets. The orders are separate from Divorce Decrees, complicated to draft, and unique to each situation. They are often needed in divorces, but many family attorneys are unable or unwilling to handle them. If you are already divorced and need a QDRO, call Leigh Law to get the retirement to which you are entitled.
- Should I get Alimony?
- Spousal Support (also known as alimony) is not a penalty for breaking a marriage contract. It exists to maintain your standard of living after you separate from your partner and continue supporting yourself. There are many factors which influence your ability to obtain spousal support, including one party’s need versus the other party’s ability to pay, length of marriage, education and income disparity, and division of duties during the marriage.
- Should I involve DHS?
- Generally, No. We can file emergency petitions and motions with the court and generally obtain the same relief that DHS can obtain, although there is an expense.
- The Department of Human Services is the largest state agency and is poorly run. Once DHS gets involved in your life, it is difficult, stressful, time-consuming, and expensive to get out from under the control of the State. You don’t want DHS involved in your life if you can possibly help it.
- What is District Court?
- Traffic and misdemeanor charges are frequently brought in what is called District Court. While District Court is an avenue to resolve issues with limited attorney’s fees, there is no jury.
- If you are found or plead guilty in District Court you have thirty days to file an appeal to Circuit Court, no questions asked. Once appealed, the case starts all over again in Circuit Court. It’s a complicated process to appeal and you must follow the rules strictly.
- What is a DWI?
- You can be convicted of DWI if you are intoxicated and are in actual physical control of a motor vehicle OR if you have a blood alcohol level above .08 and are in actual physical control of a motor vehicle. Even without a blood alcohol or breath test, you can be convicted if the State can prove your intoxication based on other evidence such as field sobriety tests or witness testimony.
- What does “intoxicated” mean?
- It means being affected by alcohol or drugs to the degree that your reactions, motor skills and judgment are substantially altered and you therefore present a clear and substantial danger of injury or death to yourself or others.
- What is an interlock device?
- An interlock device is a machine hooked to your vehicle’s ignition that prevents your car from starting if there is a detectable amount of alcohol on your breath. You must first blow into the device to start the vehicle and routinely blow into it while you are driving to keep your vehicle in operation. There are many costs associated with interlock devices.
- Do I need a real estate agent to sell my house?
- No. Real Estate agents often do little more than list the house on the MLS, and show the home to interested buyers and charge a 7% commission. If your house sells for $100,000, then you would pay $7000.00! You can easily list your house on a free website – Zillow.com or Realtor.com – and show it to interested buyers yourself! Once you find a buyer, Leigh Law can meet with you and advise on how you can sell your house yourself, help you finish the sale by drafting a purchase contract once you find a buyer and agree on a price, advising and arranging closing, inspections, for a flat fee of $3500.00. The more expensive your house, the more you save with our flat fee “for sale by owner” legal package.
- I’m being foreclosed on. What can I do?
- If you’re being foreclosed because you have not made your payments, for whatever reason, there is little we can do for you. If you have made all of your payments and the bank or mortgage company has made a mistake, then there is a lot we can do for you to stop the sale and resolve your problem!
- I am buying or selling a house on a “rent to own” or “land contract,” do I need a lawyer?
- ABSOLUTELY. A house is usually the biggest purchase Americans make in their lives. Land Contracts and “Lease to Own” arrangements are by far the most common area where we see folks get taken advantage of or have problems that cost them literally thousands of dollars. A little preventative advice and counsel could save you countless hours of stress, worry, and money.
Debt Collection Defense:
- I’m being sued for a debt, what can I do?
- You should absolutely defend the lawsuit. Often, the debt cases are filed in bulk and the debt collector is hoping the defendants will default by not appearing or fighting the case and they will win a judgment. If you fight, we win the vast majority of the time!
- What is the difference between a debt collector and an original creditor?
- A debt collector is a company or person, including a lawyer, who purchases debt on a secondary market for pennies on the dollar. An original creditor is the company or person that originally obtained the debt. If you seek services from ABC Doctor’s Office and don’t pay your bill, then the doctor’s office could hire a lawyer to sue you. The doctor’s office is the original creditor. If the doctor’s office sells your debt to XYZ Company, and that company attempts to collect from you by calling, sending letters or suing you, XYZ Company is a debt collector.
- What is arbitration?
- Arbitration is private court. It is a binding procedure that is provided by private companies and the litigants have to pay out of pocket for the “arbitrator” (judge) to listen to the evidence and make decisions. This is typically included in most credit card contracts and can be used to the advantage of the debtor.
- I bought a vehicle or motor home and it doesn’t work, what can I do?
- The Lemon Law in Arkansas is complicated and specific. The Lemon Law only applies to new vehicles and vehicles purchased with a warranty. If you bought a used car with no warranty, there is nothing we can do under the Lemon Law. You might could pursue a fraud case if you can prove the dealership lied to you in the purchase.
- I’m being harassed with telephone calls and letters about a debt, what can I do?
- Save all correspondence and voicemails. Record conversations if you answer the phone (it is legal to record a conversation without the other side knowing). There is a short statute of limitations in suing for harassment based on letters and phone calls, so get advice right away.