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FAQ


How can I work with you?
Donison Law is a modern, efficient, web-based law firm, offering all of our services online (videoconference, teleconference, email, and online document exchange). We are (almost) paperless, including electronic Court filing. This allows us to control costs and pass along savings to you. It also means that if you live anywhere in Arizona, we can assist you.

  • Videoconferencing. Our preferred method of meeting is videoconferencing via Skype, and we can also use Google Hangout. If you haven’t tried it, we think you will love it. It’s free, convenient, no commute time, and you can videoconference anywhere that you have a smart phone or computer. Bonus: It’s environmentally friendly.
  • Teleconference. No access to videoconferencing or having a bad hair day? No problem! Phone calls are an easy substitute for live chats.
  • Electronic Document Exchange. We use DropBox Pro for document exchanges. When you become a client, you will be assigned your own private, secure DropBox folder.
Will you represent me at mediation?
Absolutely! We will work with you to create your settlement proposal, identify those issues for which compromise is possible, and advocate on your behalf with the mediator and/or other party. Our Negotiation and Advocacy services are offered on an hourly basis.
Are you a real law firm? You do everything online. What gives?
Yes, we are a real law firm, in business since 2006. The nature of law practice is that most of our work is done at the desk and on the phone. In-person meetings are usually initial consultations and some mediation meetings, but the vast majority of legal work is done behind the scenes. I have chosen to change that “scene” a little more often and for longer periods of time as technology evolved. Now, working remotely has made “vacation” a bigger concept than a couple of weeks off in the summer.

As of June 1, 2017, our firm is entirely web-based and I only work remotely. Some people might think that’s a bold (or crazy) move, but I believe in working smarter and more efficiently. I also believe that we all should – as much as possible – spend time doing the things we love. For me, that means living my life by design, not default.

I love the outdoors, nature, and the awesome vistas of the Sonoran Desert, the Pacific Northwest, and everywhere in between! To do our little bit in preserving our amazing natural environment, we do everything we can to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Part of that commitment is working remotely, being as paperless as possible, and using electronic services when we can.

Will you represent me at trial?
We don’t go to Court and neither should you. Having appeared in Court to litigate both civil and family law matters for far too long, I scaled litigation back to 1-2 clients per year when I opened the practice. I completely stopped litigating anything for any reason in 2016. “Having your day in Court” generally does more harm than good, is time-consuming, stress-inducing, and very expensive. The majority of our clients are business owners or professionals who prefer to engage in confidential, private settlement rather than allowing their financial and personal information to become public record. We think that’s a smart move.

Most people don’t realize that the Family Court system is geared to the least capable members of our society – those people who cannot or will not resolve their family issues on their own. More than 95% of all cases (in Maricopa and Pima Counties) are settled without going to trial. Of the remaining 5% that go before a judge, the vast majority involve non-legal issues such as mental illness, psychiatric and/or personality disorders, drug / alcohol addiction, family violence, and other factors that significantly reduce the ability of one or both parties to settle their case. Naturally, these are not the kind of cases we want to devote our energy to.

Even if you do everything right, and want to settle your case, you may end up in Court because the other party is mentally ill, has a (diagnosed or undiagnosed) psychiatric or personality disorder, drug / alcohol addiction, or engages in family violence. We are happy to refer you to our litigation colleagues if this is your situation.

Do you offer free consultations?

Yes and no.

We offer the following options, based on Pamela’s reduced* billing rate of $300 per hour:

•    15 minute chat for $75
•    30 minute meeting for $150
•    1-hour meeting for $300
•    2-hour meeting for $600
•    3-hour mediation for $1,000 (includes 20 minutes of document review)

If you retain our services within 30 days of your initial consultation, one-half of the consult fee is credited to your account.

*Based on moving our services to web-based delivery, we felt it was only fair to pass the savings on to you, so our billing rate has been reduced from $350 per hour to $300 per hour. 

What are your fees?
It depends! Some of our services are offered on a flat fee, including Mediation and Document Preparation.
Negotiation and Advocacy, and Legal Coaching and Consulting are offered on an hourly basis at $300 per hour.
Who are your clients?
All types of people engage our services. We have an equal number of men and women as clients, and represent people who make a modest wage as well as multi-millionaire business owners. We represent newly engaged spouses-to-be and divorcing couples who have been together for decades, same sex couples, people who have children from previous relationships and couples with no children at all, home-based consultants and business owners who value privacy and confidentiality, and people at all stages of managing elder family and estate issues. We enjoy working with a variety of clients with one thing in common: they want to handle their affairs peacefully, privately, and with minimal damage to their family.

The firm does not represent parties engaged in cases alleging child abuse or domestic violence, minor child adoption, termination of parental rights, vulnerable adult abuse, competency hearings, or probate litigation. We are happy to provide referrals to our trusted colleagues for those types of cases.

$200 divorce? $100,000 divorce? Which is it?
Both of these are true and neither one of them is true.

Maybe you’ve seen billboards claiming “$200 Divorce.” Is there any such unicorn? Technically, it can cost you absolutely nothing if you do it all yourself with free forms provided by the Court’s Self Service Center and if you have your filing fees waived. The problem is that some places offer the “$200 Divorce” without informing you that the exact same forms they are using are available for free. They also don’t tell you that the Superior Court charges a filing fee of $338 for filing a Petition and $269 for a Response, unless you apply and qualify for a fee waiver. By the way, that $200 doesn’t buy you any legal advice, either, because those places are document preparation services, not licensed attorneys.

Maybe you’ve heard the saying “Love is Grand, Divorce is A Hundred Grand.” Is your divorce going to cost $100,000? Yes, it can cost that and much more if you have a complex estate, want to litigate every possible claim, and take unreasonable positions with the assistance of a willing attorney.

We think your divorce should be a budgeted expense, with careful consideration to spending money where you NEED to and not where someone else WANTS you to. Keep in mind that conflict costs money, so the higher the level of conflict the more you can expect to pay in legal fees.

My loved one died with a valid will and I was named as Personal Representative. What do I do now?
You can retain our services to manage an Informal Probate, or we can provide Legal Coaching and Consulting so that you can do it yourself. If the estate requires Formal Probate, you will need representation in order to take your loved one’s estate through the Formal Probate process. We are happy to refer you to a colleague if this is your situation.
My loved one died and I am the trustee of their trust. What do I do now?
You can retain our services to administer the trust, or we can provide Legal Coaching and Consulting so that you can do it yourself.
We have agreed on everything, but we need help with the formal process of getting divorced. Can you help?
Yes we can! We have assisted many couples with a Do-It-Yourself Divorce who have come up with the basic terms of an agreement, but want assistance in filing their Petition or Response, drafting an agreement, and filing their decree or orders. We provide Document Preparation on a flat fee basis or Legal Coaching and Consulting on an hourly basis, depending on your needs.
My loved one died without a valid will. What do I do now?
You can retain our services to manage an Informal Probate, or we can provide Legal Coaching and Consulting so that you can do it yourself. If the estate requires Formal Probate, you will need representation in order to take your loved one’s estate through the Formal Probate process. We are happy to refer you to a colleague if this is your situation.
Can’t I do my own divorce?
Yes and many people do. The Superior Courts offer forms through their Self Service Center free of charge. Unfortunately, many family law issues are more complex than they initially appear, so you may be “penny wise and pound foolish” to do it yourself without some legal advice. We recommend that Do-It-Yourselfers seek advice about the form of Decree or Order that you submit to the Court. It is so much easier and much less expensive to get it right the first time! For Do-It-Yourself Consulting, we provide services on an hourly basis.
What should I bring to our first meeting?
When your appointment is confirmed, you will receive a list of documents to bring to our meeting, depending on the type of matter we are assisting you with. At our first meeting we will talk about your individual needs, documents to gather, and we will give you a checklist of additional items to provide.
My family owns a business. How can we keep our financial information from being public record?
Many people don’t realize that when you go to Court, business financial data can become part of the public record open to all of your employees and competitors. To avoid what can be a devastating disclosure, business owners should never take their issues to Court. By choosing mediation or negotiation, you can maintain privacy and confidentiality over your business information.
Do you work with other experts?
Yes! We regularly work with mental health professionals, divorce financial analysts, business valuation experts, investment advisors, realtors, pediatric therapists, vocational evaluators, real property appraisers, accountants, probate attorneys, business attorneys, and Court-appointed special masters. Our team approach ensures that decisions are based on the best possible data rather than conjecture or “guesstimates.” We know that working with experts is a wise and cost-effective method of helping you make smart decisions about your family, finances, and future.
I want to mediate, but my spouse/family won’t agree. Now what?
It’s not unusual for people to be unsure about mediation, whether it’s for a divorce, post-decree modification, or estate issues. Mediation is a voluntary process and unless everyone will at least agree to one meeting, your next step will be to explore some other method of resolution. Often, it is fear of the unknown that makes people hesitant to engage in mediation. We encourage skeptics to review the information on our website, read our Free E-Book Understanding the Alternatives, then let’s talk about how the process works.
I need an appointment immediately. Is that possible?
Yes! While we have a pretty busy calendar, we can usually schedule an appointment within 48 hours via videoconference or phone.