Lawyers are not in the business of handing out free advice

April 14, 2023

There are several reasons why this is so. First, divorce lawyers are professionals who have invested years of time and money into their education and training. They deserve to be compensated for their services, just like any other professional. Even Lucy charged Charlie Brown for advice.


Second, divorce law is complex and ever-changing. A divorce lawyer needs to be up-to-date on the latest laws and regulations in order to provide accurate and effective advice. This takes time and effort – and lawyers want to be compensated because their time and effort are what they sell.


Third, giving free advice over the phone can be risky for a divorce lawyer. If the lawyer provides incorrect advice, the client could sue for malpractice – on a case the lawyer never even got paid for. This is a serious risk that no lawyer wants to take. They also do not want to risk giving you incomplete advice. As a result, most lawyer malpractice policies restrict us from giving advice to people on the phone that are not clients.


Fourth, the answer depends on the facts. An answer can change depending on the facts you give a lawyer. For example, as a basic premise, all assets created during a marriage are marital property. But, some assets fall outside of the marriage, but could be part of the marital property divided. Or the marital estate could be compensated for the efforts that the partners have put in to maintaining an asset. Without knowing all of those facts, its hard to say one way or another that something definitely is or is not marital property. No attorney wants to sit on the phone and go through this analysis without being paid to do so – and will simply tell you, “it depends”. Its pretty unsatisfying to be told, well, it depends on the facts of the case when all you want is an answer.


Fifth, the practice of law is not precise. The practice of law is not like punching numbers into a calculator and adding them up. Its more like dealing with parens, powers, and negative numbers, and the answer changes depending on which methods you were taught in grade school. The practice of law is a lot like that. The answer reached depends on the gray areas, including the facts, the demeanor of witnesses and if they are believable, the judge’s understanding of the law, evidentiary rulings, and on and on….. For example, there are laws and statutes that define when a court can hear an issue and when the issue that someone wants to bring to court is outside of the court’s purview and ability to make a decision. This is a concept called subject matter jurisdiction. To ensure you can get what you asked for, you have to file a pleading or motion that is supported by the law and that asks the judge to grant you a ruling. Sometimes the judge will stray a little from what was asked for. But if you ask 10 attorneys if that ruling was allowed by the law, you will get all kinds of answers – and there would be appellate cases out there that would defend each answer.


Finally, divorce lawyers are trying to earn a living. They have bills to pay and families to support. Giving free advice over the phone would not be sustainable for most lawyers. Lawyers are professionals who have invested years of time and money into their education and training. They deserve to be compensated for their services, just like any other professional. If you get free advice, remember, you get what you pay for.


If you’re considering divorce, it’s important to find a qualified lawyer who can help you through the process – and you should not decide to not hire one because he or she won’t give you free advice. Don’t be afraid to ask about fees and payment options – many lawyers can work with you on the financial side. Just understand, all lawyers are out there trying to earn a living, just like you.


I am one of the few around here who displays the prices I charge to clients for the work I do. Call me if you are ready to start on your uncontested, simple or amicable divorce. You can also reach out through my website.