Family Law FAQs

Print Friendly


The following FAQ’s provide an overview of the most common questions potential new clients ask us.

What is a retainer?
What is initial consultation?
Are there fees for initial consultations?
What is conflict of interest?
How am I billed?
Who will be working on my case?
How much will my case cost?
What is discovery?
What if I have a critical legal need and cannot afford an Attorney?

What is a retainer?

A retainer is a sum of money paid to the firm before services begin.  The retainer will be deposited into the firm’s trust account.  Each month, money will be paid to the firm for any services provided (fees) or costs (such as a filing fee paid to the court).  If any of the retainer remains in the trust account when representation ceases, the remaining retainer is paid back to the client.  If the retainer is exhausted prior to the completion of the case, another retainer will be requested.

What is an initial consultation?

An initial consultation is your first meeting with the attorney.  The specifics of your case will be discussed.  Depending on the complexity and number of issues in your case, it may last more than one hour.

Are there fees for initial consultations?

The family law attorneys at Barna, Guzy & Steffen are all experienced legal professionals who typically bill their time by the tenth of the hour. When you set up an initial consultation, you are hiring a legal professional to initially review your case and advise on what actions you may or may not take regarding your potential legal issues. There is a minimal fee for this service, consultations are not typically free. Most clients leave the offices feeling that the opportunity to have so many questions answered was worth this investment. BGS Family Law attorney Liz Schading is now offering an express 30min initial consultation for free. Liz Schading’s regular 90min initial consultation fee is $100.

What is a conflict of interest?

When you schedule an appointment, you will be asked to provide the name of the other party involved in your matter.  Both names are checked to determine whether either of you have ever consulted or been represented by an attorney at Barna, Guzy and Steffen, Ltd.  If the opposing party has been seen, it would most likely be a conflict of interest for any other attorney at the firm to meet with you.  This is true even if the previous matter was unrelated to your matter.  You will be told if there is a conflict, and no meeting will occur.

How am I billed?

You will receive monthly billing statements detailing all work that was performed on your file in the previous month, or any costs that were advanced.  These fees and costs are deducted from your retainer and paid to the firm.

Who will be working on my case?

Generally, the attorney you retain will be the attorney working directly with and for you.  Paralegals and secretaries will also work on your file specifically, as they are assigned to the attorney representing you.  All of the BGS family law attorneys specialize in family law, as does the staff.

How much will my case cost?

It’s impossible to know at the start.  By signing our retainer agreement, you agree to pay us by the tenth of an hour (6 minute increments).  The cost of your matter is determined by the amount of time actually spent working on it, and any costs incurred.  Cases where agreement is reached early will be less costly than cases involving court appearances and extending over a long period of time.  Discovery is also costly.

What is discovery?

Discovery can be formal or informal.  It is the method by which information is gathered about income, assets, debts, fitness to parent, etc.  Informal discovery commences with a letter requesting certain information, which is thereafter voluntarily provided.  Formal discovery often commences with service of Interrogatories and Request for Production of Document.  These documents require written responses within 30 days.

If responses are not timely provided or are incomplete, the process continues and more fees are incurred.  There may also be depositions of parties and witnesses.  Depositions are opportunities for counsel to ask questions of the party or witness.  A court reporter will be present to place the witness under oath, and to record every question and answer.  Transcripts of all that is said can be ordered at a cost from the reporter. Depositions are usually admissible evidence in court proceedings.

What if I have a critical legal need and cannot afford an Attorney?

Judicare of Anoka County, Inc. is a non-profit corporation that provides free legal representation in non-criminal matters to low income residents of Anoka County and may be able to help you if you qualify for their services.

Back to Top