A common question I hear is…
“How much will the attorney fees for my divorce be?”
And rightfully so! Attorneys are expensive. Depending on where you live, you could be looking at an hourly rate of $400 plus…that can be a huge dent to a lot of us.
Unfortunately, I am rarely ever able to answer the question definitively. Whenever I am asked to estimate the attorney fees for a divorce, I lay out all the variables that have an impact. Some of these variables include:
- The complexity of the issues in dispute
- The contention or conflict between the parties
- The process option chosen by the parties (ie. litigation, mediation, collaborative divorce, etc.)
- The other attorney involved
ATTORNEY FEES ADD UP
I’ve seen divorce cases where the fees were under $2,000 and other cases where the fees have exceeded $200,000. Consequently, it is very important that you have a clear understanding of how the attorney charges for his or her services and what else may be your responsibility to pay for like copies or postage.
A LESSON IN PLANNING AND ASKING
In order to plan as well as you can from the outset, ask about the attorney’s fees and costs in the initial consultation. It is, however, reasonable for you to pay for the initial consultation because you should be receiving substantive information and advice relevant to your circumstances. Some lawyers charge a flat fee for an initial consultation. You should know what the fee is before your appointment so there are no surprises when you show up. Likewise, you should walk away from the initial consultation knowing what the monetary requirements will be if you decide to retain the attorney to assist you with your divorce process.
Most attorneys require a retainer or fee deposit which is an upfront monetary deposit that you pay to the attorney to engage him or her to provide professional services. You may also be required to pay for professional services provided to you at regular or monthly intervals. All monetary requirements, billing procedures and details regarding hourly rates and costs should be set forth in a written fee, engagement or professional services agreement that you receive at the commencement of your attorney/client relationship.
In summary, there is no flat rate that applies to all attorneys. The best advice is to remember that you should never be afraid to ask your attorney questions about fees and costs, before you deep dive into any commitment.