No matter our station in life, 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. A divorce lawyer or family law attorney generally bills on an hourly basis. An hourly rate is typically in the hundreds of dollars per hour range. And, it can be nearly impossible to accurately predict how much work will go into the case before it’s over. That creates a creates a pricing challenge.
No litigation 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 do settle, with less than 5% going to trial. But, there’s a wide spectrum as to when in the process a case will settle. 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. So many potential variables result in a wide range of potential cost.
We’ve learned a lot about what it takes to resolve cases. We’ve also learned a thing or two about family law representation pricing. Enough, in fact, that we’re able to offer you options and guarantees on our work. Some clients prefer to stick with the traditional model of paying a retainer and then working off it on an hourly basis, paying the same rate for all work done on the file. Others prefer the certainty of flat fees, knowing they’ll pay a set amount and no more. We realize hiring a lawyer is a big decision and expense. We want you to be satisfied. One important factor in your satisfaction is whether you feel you got a good deal. So, read on and give meaningful thought to which fee structure makes the most sense for you.
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. We account for all of the above in a monthly statement that we send to you.
To determine your initial retainer payment, we estimate the work that will likely need to be done in the first few months of the representation. Some cases are easier to estimate than others. When there’s uncertainty, we tend to air on the side of caution. Remember, the funds you put in trust with us are yours until billed. We’ll refund whatever is left at the end of the representation. So, paying more than you’ll need won’t result in spending more money on the case. We regularly refund retainer balances at the end of the representation.
Hourly fee billing is a great solution for clients who want to pay for exactly what work is done on the case. The risk for the client is that something might occur that unexpectedly requires immediate and significant attorney time dedicated to the file, such as an emergency hearing. When things of that nature come up, we’re ready and able to address them efficiently.
Justice for All Program | Flat Fee and Limited Assistance Representation:
Years ago, our court rules were amended to allow an attorney to represent a client on a limited basis without having to make a full appearance on the case. This is called “Limited Assistance Representation” and is the basis of our Justice for All Program. While some clients can’t afford or don’t wish to hire an attorney to handle every aspect of their cases, many would like the benefit of some attorney guidance and involvement. We developed Justice for All for just that purpose. This type of engagement allows us to handle specific things in your case without becoming the general attorney of record. This makes hiring an attorney more appealing for those who feel they only need help on select tasks. These tasks could include things like drafting a separation agreement and joint filing documents, drafting and arguing motions, preparing discovery requests, and the like. We can essentially formulate a flat fee for any narrow task and we can remain accessible and available until your case resolves. Click here to learn more about our Justice for All Program, including pricing.
Costs and Expenses of Divorce and 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.
How Much Will My Divorce 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 though an attorney consultation. To schedule one, call our main number at 866-995-6663 or complete the contact form on this page.