We all want great service at a fair price. That’s a reasonable expectation, but estimating the cost of a divorce or other family law matter can be a challenge. We generally charge for divorce and family law matters by the hour, with each member of our team billing at a rate commensurate with experience and position at the firm. Hourly rates are typically in the hundreds of dollars per hour range. Because cases can last anywhere from two months to two years, there is a wide spectrum of potential costs. The more we know, the better we can set your expectation, so schedule a consultation for the best assessment.
Remember, no case ends until both parties agree to settle all issues or until the judge rules after trial. This is true whether your case is a divorce, custody, modification, or contempt, and so on. By and far, most cases settle, with less than 5% going to trial. But, there’s a wide spectrum as to when in the process a case will resolve. You know more than anyone how reasonable the other party will likely be, and how likely he or she will engage in a cooperative and constructive manner. You also likely have a sense of whether we should expect urgent issues requiring immediate and substantial work.
There are variables that go into the cost of representation, some outside of our control, but we always strive to work as efficiently and effectively as we can to deliver maximum value and client satisfaction.
Divorce & Family Law Hourly Fee Pricing & Billing
This is the traditional way people hire lawyers and it may be the right fit for you. With this model, you start the representation by making an initial payment, called a “retainer,” when you sign your agreement hiring the firm. The firm then places the retainer in our trust account. Even in the trust account, the money you pay continues to be your property. That remains true until we do the work and send you a bill listing, item by item, the work we’ve done, and its cost. At that point, we transfer the bill amount from our trust account (aka IOLTA) to our operating account. Whatever you have left in trust continues to be your property. All the accounting for these transactions is included in your monthly statement.
Determining Your Retainer
To determine your initial retainer payment, we estimate the work that will likely need to be done in the first months of the representation, based on the information we know at the time. Some cases are easier to estimate than others. When there’s uncertainty, we tend to air on the side of caution. Initial retainers for contested matters tend to be $5,000 but may be more or less depending on the case’s complexity. Uncontested matters generally require a $1,000 retainer as our role is primarily drafting documents.
Mediation clients generally pay a few hundred dollar retainer and then pay as they go. Some clients retain us to coach and advise them through mediation conducted outside of Turco Legal. We generally allow those clients to pay as they go. Whatever category you fall into, the funds you put in trust with us are yours until billed and we refund whatever is left at the end of the representation.
Whenever any member of our team performs work on your file, a short description is entered into our case management software for billing purposes. At the conclusion of each month, we’ll run the billing and send you a statement that sets forth all the activity on your file, the amount of time spent on each activity, who performed the activity, and the corresponding hourly rate. Attorneys charge between $225/hour to $450/hour depending on experience and expertise. Paralegals and Legal Assistants bill $100/hour and $50/hour respectively.
Justice for All Program | Reduced Fee Limited Assistance Representation
Family law cases tend to deal with the most important issues in people’s lives. Yet about 80% of those in family court proceed without representation, either because they cannot afford to hire an attorney or because they are turned away by pro bono providers. In an effort to address this issue, Turco Legal has established the Justice for All Program. Here is how it works.
The Justice for All Program delivers reduced fee representation, subject to case assessment. Through this program, you may choose to have an associate attorney with Turco Legal do one of two things. Your attorney can either manage your entire case, through resolution, at a reduced fee. Or, as an alternative, you can hire Turco Legal for limited portions of the case only. For example, you may choose to hire Turco Legal to represent you at a specific court hearing, but nothing more. This second option is called “Limited Assistance Representation” and you may feel it is a better option, based on your budget.
Justice for All Program: Eligibility & Pricing
Here is what you should know about eligibility and pricing.
To be eligible for the program:
- You must make $65,000 or less annually; and,
- You must not have significant assets from which our regular rates could be paid.
Pricing & Process
- If we accept your case into the program, you’ll pay a $1,000 retainer to start. Your retainer will be held in our attorney IOLTA (trust) account for the duration of the representation.
- Your attorney will charge you at a reduced rate of $100/hour.
- If you believe it makes more sense given your budget, you may choose to complete tasks in the case instead of the attorney.
- We will bill weekly on your case. We typically run billing on Fridays and charge your payment method for all work performed for the week. These funds go directly into our operating account and your initial retainer payment remains in the trust account.
- The representation is week to week, which we’ve found makes paying fees more manageable.
- If your payment method is ever rejected, we would apply the funds held in trust to the balance due. We’d then speak with you to determine whether you’d like us to replenish the trust account and continue the representation.
This may seem a bit complicated, but the program delivers a powerful result: associate attorney representation at less than half our lowest hourly rate, paid weekly instead of monthly. If you’re interested in our Justice for All Program, please schedule a consultation.
Costs & Expenses of Divorce & Family Law Cases
Regardless of whether you hire an attorney, it’s important that you consider the other costs associated with a divorce or other family law case. Most case types require that you pay a filing fee and cost of the summons to the clerk of court. Most cases also require personal service of process. This means you’ll need to pay an additional fee to the sheriff or to a constable, who will properly serve the initial court documents upon the other party.
The rest of your expenses will coincide with the discovery you do and the professionals you hire to assist with the case. If you take a deposition, for example, you’ll incur the stenographer’s “sitting fee.” You’ll also incur charges for the deposition transcript, typically billed by the page. If you send a records request to a third party, such as a bank, that party will likely charge you for it’s work in compiling the records. Whether you have an attorney or not, you should do a cost-benefit analysis on each part of your discovery plan before putting it into action.
Pro Bono Family Law Representation
Our attorneys do take on pro bono clients who are not obligated to pay us any fees. We are selective in the cases we take on and always start with limited representation. To be eligible for the program you must demonstrate: (1) a compelling need for legal help; (2) a lack of financial resources to afford regular or reduced fee representation; (3) a family law case, such as a divorce, custody, support, modification, or contempt; and, (4) that a legal aid organization has declined to take on your case. We assist most pro bono clients in helping them strategize their cases and drafting documents they can file in the court. We also go to court on some, but few, cases and argue on the client’s behalf.
Pro Bono Estate Planning
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are currently providing free simple estate planning to medical providers who have a higher likelihood of becoming exposed to the virus. Individuals with net worths of over $1,000,000 are excluded from the program as they are more likely to encounter estate tax issues and, accordingly, require more expertise. Anyone else working in a medical facility and living in Massachusetts qualifies for our program. We make the process as efficient as possible and ask that you provide us with a positive online review reflecting your experience with the firm. Schedule a consultation with our office to start the process.
How Much Will My Case Cost?
This is undoubtedly the question you’re asking. To determine the answer, we need to know more about the case. The best way to figure it out for your case is through an attorney consultation. To schedule one, call our main number at 866-995-6663 or schedule online here.