Dear Rich: Hospitals and Fair Use


Dear Rich: We are part of a team working on an article for nurses who work in professional staff development, trying to clarify when the doctrine of fair use would apply to our jobs. We have been referencing the 5th edition of your book, Getting Permission, and it stated that hospitals also are considered educational institutions under most educational fair use….

FBI to Join Last Century, Start Recording Interviews


In the past, the FBI didn’t record interviews of its suspects—the past being two weeks ago. Local police departments and other law enforcement agencies have been taping alleged lawbreakers for decades, but this most sophisticated investigative body has always had an anti-recording policy. In the majority of cases, to determine what an arrestee actually said, federal jurors have had to…

How Much Will My Divorce Cost and How Long Will it Take?


Results from Nolo’s nationwide divorce survey — typical hourly divorce attorney fees, total cost of divorce, how long divorce takes, and more.


When couples start thinking about divorce, one of the first questions they have is: How much will a divorce cost?  Attorney fees range widely and the total cost of your divorce will depend on numerous factors, such as where you live, whom you hire, whether your spouse is combative or collegial, how many issues you’ll need to resolve — and the list goes on. It’s a similar story if you try to find out how long your divorce might take.

Nolo is in a unique position to gather information about what actually happens in divorce cases across the country. Thousands of people visit and other Nolo sites every day, seeking legal information about divorce and looking to connect with divorce attorneys. We contacted people that visited our sites over the past few years, asking them to voluntarily participate in a survey about their divorce cases. The survey asked respondents about a number of things, including:

  1. how much their divorce attorney charged per hour
  2. how much their divorce cost
  3. the number of issues that they resolved out of court and in court
  4. whether their spouse contested the case
  5. how long the divorce took from start to finish
  6. their level of satisfaction with the outcome of the divorce

The initial responses provide useful information on issues related to the divorce process.

Typical Hourly Rate for Divorce Attorneys

Although most people would prefer to have an attorney by their side when going through a divorce, many also worry about how much this will cost. Even if you’ve called around or visited the websites of various divorce attorneys, you may still wonder if a lawyer is charging too much, or even too little (this can be an indication that the lawyer doesn’t have enough experience or is desperate for clients).

Here’s what we found. Nationwide, the typical fee that people paid their divorce attorneys was $250 per hour.


The $250 hourly number was consistent for attorneys who provided various types of assistance in a divorce case:

  1. full representation –  the attorney handled every issue in the case
  2. limited scope or partial representation – the attorney managed only some aspects of the case, for example, handled alimony and child custody issues but not division of property, and
  3. consultation only – the attorney provided advice or prepared documents on an as-needed basis, but did not represent the client.

A few people reported that they paid their attorney as little as $50 per hour, and a few reported paying as much as $400 to $650 per hour. But the vast majority paid between $150 and $350 per hour, with $250 being the most commonly reported fee.

The Average Total Cost of Divorce

When all is said and done, what did the average person pay, in total, to get divorced? This figure includes total attorney’s fees, court costs, and other costs such as hiring a real estate appraiser, tax advisor, child custody evaluator, or another expert. The figures below track costs only for people who used full service representation.

Most people reported paying a total of around $4,000 for their divorce. In fact, about half of the survey respondents paid between $3,000 and $5,000. A few reported paying as little as $1,000, and some paid as much as $20,000 or $30,000 to complete their divorces.

How Long Does the Average Divorce Case Take?

Another pressing question among people deciding to divorce:  How long will it take?  According to the results from our survey, the average time it took to complete a divorce – from filing the petition to getting the final court judgment – was about ten months. In fact, over half of the respondents reported a case length of somewhere between six and twelve months.

Our survey asked people whether they resolved certain legal issues out of court or through trial. Those issues included:

  1. child custody
  2. child support
  3. alimony or spousal support
  4. the division of property
  5. the division of debts
  6. attorney’s fees
  7. claims for reimbursement
  8. claims for breach of fiduciary duty

The survey asked respondents to pinpoint which of these issues they settled out of court and which went to trial. Not surprisingly, the more issues that went to trial, the longer the divorce took.

The results also indicate that letting a judge resolve divorce issues doesn’t lead to happier customers; as the number of issues resolved at trial increased, the overall satisfaction with the process decreased. There may be a number of reasons for this. The longer your case drags on and the more squabbling that occurs, the more unhappy you are likely to be. Keep in mind too, that folks who are naturally litigious might also be less satisfied with any result, no matter what it is. And of course, the more issues you have to resolve through trial, the more you’ll pay your attorney – not a recipe for overall satisfaction.

The information provided here came from Nolo’s contact with people who visited our sites over the past few years, asking them to voluntarily participate in a survey about their legal matters. All collected data is kept confidential and complies with the Nolo privacy policy. Nolo carefully examined and analyzed the data using sound statistical methods. The Nolo consumer survey project aims to promote transparency and clarity about the legal process.


Written By: Kathleen Michon

How Does COBRA Work With Obamacare?


Last week, the federal Department of Labor issued proposed regulations dealing with COBRA notices. The regulatory proposal is quite uninteresting: Basically, the administration is removing the model notices from the Code of Federal Regulations and providing them instead on the Department of Labor’s website. This allows the notices to be changed much more quickly and easily, without resort to the federal rulemaking process.

The Labor Department also posted the new model versions of these notices: The general notice employees receive when they sign-up for employer-provided healthcare, and the election notice employees receive when a qualifying event occurs and they have to actually decide whether or not to continue their health insurance through COBRA. (You can find links to both new versions at the DOL’s COBRA Continuation Coverage page.)

The changes to the notices mostly involve Obamacare: specifically, the interface between Obamacare and COBRA. The notices explain that employees (and other beneficiaries) who are losing their employer-provided coverage may continue that coverage for at least 18 months by paying the full premium, pursuant to COBRA. However, employees also have the option of foregoing COBRA coverage and instead buying insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Ordinarily, anyone who wants to buy insurance on the Marketplace must wait for an open enrollment period. One just closed; the next one doesn’t start until mid-November. So what if you get laid off between now and then? The new notices explain that there is a 60-day “special enrollment” period triggered by losing job-based coverage. In other words, a laid-off employee has 60 days to choose a new health plan through the Marketplace; the same 60-day period applies to choosing COBRA coverage.

The new election notice provides some good answers to questions about switching coverage, too:

      1. If you choose COBRA coverage, but decide you want to buy through the Marketplace instead, you may do so during the initial 60-day special enrollment period. If you miss this deadline, you’ll have to wait until open enrollment rolls around, just like everyone else (unless you have a second event that triggers a special enrollment period, like having a child).
      2. If you choose Marketplace coverage, but decide you should have taken advantage of COBRA, you are out of luck. Once you decline COBRA coverage, it’s gone.
      3. Once your COBRA coverage ends, you get another 60-day special enrollment period in which to sign up for Obamacare.


Written By: Lisa Guerin

Justin Bieber’s Immigration Woes. Again. (Sorry)

Demonstrating for Justin Bieber

Justin, please tell me you didn’t get into legal trouble again.

I say that not because I’m in a moralizing mood, and not because I’m worried about what kind of example you’re setting for your fresh-faced, adoring fans.

No, I say that for one, much simpler reason.

I thought I was done writing about whether your various run-ins with U.S. law enforcement make you, as a non-citizen visa holder, deportable. Intellectually and emotionally, I am over it.

But now readers are asking, “So, is he deportable this time? The LAPD are going after him for attempted robbery! How ‘bout it? ”

Alright, here goes.

Justin’s latest “oops” was apparently grabbing a woman’s cell phone in order to erase photos that he suspected she had taken of him. (‘Cause who wouldn’t want to snap photos of the Biebs?)

If that doesn’t sound like robbery to you, read Nolo editor Micah Schwartzach’s analysis, “Breaking Down Bieber’s Alleged Attempted Robbery.”

Noncitizens of the U.S. can be deported if they commit certain types of crimes, found in Section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.). Although some crimes are named on that list, attempted robbery isn’t one of them (nor is regular robbery.)

However, his lawyers would also want to look at whether the robbery conviction (if it indeed happens, and depending on the details) meets any of the following criteria for deportability found in the I.N.A.:

  1. crime involving moral turpitude that was committed within five years ) after the date of U.S. admission and is punishable by a sentence of at least one year
  2. one of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude that took place at any time after U.S. admission, where the two crimes did not arise out of a single scheme of misconduct, or
  3. an aggravated felony committed at any time after U.S. admission.

As explained further in the links provided above, the short answer is that, once again, he’s probably not deportable. Unless, that is, he gets a one-year sentence for grabbing a cell phone. Stay tuned!

Wait, no, don’t stay tuned to hear it from me. That’s it. My last blog on Justin Bieber. I swear it.


Written By: Ilona Bray