So what is the cost of a divorce lawyer going to be?
Are you looking for an Orlando divorce lawyer because you just got served? Are you thinking of getting a divorce and want to hire a lawyer to represent you?
If you are like most people, you are probably curious what a divorce lawyer is going to cost. You may have even picked up the phone and called a law firm to ask them how much they would charge for a divorce.
I am going to let you in on a secret! Well, not really a secret, but it is the truth. Nobody knows! That’s right, nobody knows. Why?
Because nobody has a crystal ball that will show how hard your spouse is going to fight you and what type of lawyer he/she might hire. There are other unknown variables that will impact the cost of your divorce, and those above are the main two.
However, an experienced lawyer should be able to provide you with a range or an estimate based upon certain facts and/or assumptions. Here are some facts for you to ponder…
DIFFERENT TYPES OF DIVORCE LAWYERS
Lawyering is an art, not a science! Each lawyer practices law in his or her own way, and each lawyer has their own beliefs and philosophies about the practice of family law.
For example, a lawyer might prefer to take most, if not all divorce cases to trial. She might really enjoy the challenge of the courtroom battle and the significant amount of money she can make from taking your divorce to trial. Another lawyer might prefer to focus on settling your divorce outside of the courtroom, using alternatives such as collaborative divorce, mediation, or informal negotiation.
DIVORCE LAWYER CONSULTATION FEE
The first fee you may encounter in your divorce case is the divorce lawyer’s consultation fee.
While personal injury attorneys typically offer a free consultation before they agree to take on your case, divorce attorneys (and divorce cases) are a bit different.
Some family law attorneys do offer a free consultation. Others may charge you for the first consultation. Other divorce lawyers might charge for the consultation, but put that money towards their services if you sign on with them.
After your initial consultation, it is very common for divorce attorneys to charge by the hour.
HOW MUCH DO DIVORCE LAWYERS CHARGE PER HOUR?
Divorce lawyers charge different retainers. Some ask for $10,000 or more in a non- refundable retainer, while others require a $3,500 refundable retainer. Many lawyers will require that you pay the full retainer amount before beginning work on your divorce.
An attorney’s hourly fee will likely range from around $200 per hour up to $750 per hour or beyond. Hourly fees will depend upon the divorce lawyer’s education, experience, the costs of running his or her law firm, the complexity of your case, and the going hourly rate for divorce lawyers in the local marketplace.
Have you walked into a lawyer’s office and seen marble flooring, antique furniture, rich mahogany bookshelves in a library with wall-to-wall legal books, leather seats, and perhaps a priceless vase from the Ming dynasty? Someone has to pay for it all. You get the idea.
When it comes to the cost of a divorce lawyer, do not forget about the costs that are separate and apart from the fees. Divorce lawyers have different methods of charging for costs. Some will charge you for paper clips, staples, paper, letterhead, toner, envelopes, postage, mileage, copies, fax, scans, etc., while others choose to just charge for the time involved with making copies or sending a fax.
FLAT OR FIXED FEES
You might be able to find a lawyer who will offer you a flat or fixed fee for an uncontested divorce or for parts of a divorce. For example, some lawyers offer a flat fee for preparing all the documents and filing them for you. Another flat fee might be offered for the next phase of your divorce where financial documents are exchanged with your spouse. You might also be able to get a flat fee for a lawyer to represent you for a mediation in your case.
In my experience, I would suggest that most lawyers do not offer flat fees. The reason is typically because the amount of work necessary is unknown. They might believe that undercharging a client is not fair and neither is overcharging the client.
I offer flat fees because it is clear to me that the vast majority of people want pricing transparency…they want to know how much something is going to cost. What other things do people buy where the price is unknown? Any attorney with a reasonable amount of experience can effectively estimate what a case might cost a client. Furthermore, an attorney can customize and structure a flat fee price to account for any variables that might increase the cost.
My advice is that you do not have to accept the pricing structure most divorce attorneys offer—a retainer with hourly billing. You have the choice to either request a flat fee option or find an attorney who offers flat fee pricing.
VALUE BASED FEES
In addition, some lawyers might offer you a fee based upon the value you place on having them represent you. The theory being that the value of your divorce is more than the sum of the hours billed for the work done on your case.
COSTS FOR EXPERTS
If your lawyer is planning to take your case to trial or if there are issues in your divorce that require the services of some type of expert, there will likely be additional costs for those expert services.
For example, if you own a business, a business valuation expert might be needed to place a reasonable value on your business. If you have an extensive collection of high-quality jewelry, you might need to hire an expert appraiser to place a reasonable value on that jewelry.
TIPS FOR LOWERING THE COST OF A DIVORCE LAWYER
One significant way to minimize the costs of your divorce is to effectively and respectfully communicate with your spouse to resolve as many issues as you can. The more issues you and your spouse can resolve by talking with each other, the less time your lawyer will have to spend arguing and negotiating those issues for you.
If you have minor children, focus your attention and efforts on creating a future family arrangement that supports the children, nourishes their growth, and demonstrates respect for each member of your family. It has been repeatedly observed that high levels of ongoing conflict between the parents is damaging for children.
THE BOTTOM LINE COST OF A DIVORCE LAWYER
I hope you can see that the cost of your divorce can be highly influenced by your actions and behavior, as well as the actions and behavior of your spouse. You are not at the mercy of your divorce lawyer if you make a wise choice about the lawyer you hire.
You can contribute in a positive way to keep the costs of your divorce lawyer lower. You can keep more money for your family, instead of spending your valuable, hard-earned cash fighting about every issue, and ultimately, letting a stranger—the Judge—make decisions about what is best for you, your spouse, and your family.