Attorney Fee Questions
- How much is required for a retainer? (in most cases this is not refundable after your case is started, even if you decide to drop the case)
- Hourly fees
- How do they charge? by the hour or less (15 minuet intervals)
- Does the hourly fee include all other expenses (secretary services, paralegal, etc..)
- What are the fees if case goes to trial?
- Extra service fees (appraisals, accountants, escrow)
- Misc. fees (faxes, photocopies, letters, etc..)
- Get an estimate (low and high range)
- Get a written agreement for services, fees and expenses
It's not a bad idea to get a feel for the office too. Not only do you need to know the fees upfront, but you want to feel comfortable with the divorce attorney and the support staff working on your behalf.
Retainer Fees - these fees generally run from $2000.00 up to $4000.00, adjust accordingly if your case is complex. Be prepared to pay any fees over your retainer deposit. As mentioned, you need to get a detailed list of fees before you hire any attorney.
How Are Attorney Fees Payable?
Most attorneys want a retainer, after that it is negotiable in terms of how payment is expected. Some attorneys will require payment upon services rendered and other will allow installments, it just depends on your agreement. Make sure you are very clear and have this in writing, there is nothing worse than getting stuck in the middle of a case without a lawyer.
Depending on the situation, if your spouse is making more money than you are a good divorce attorney can get them to shoulder most of the fees.
Remember: try to keep expenses down by answering some of your questions online. Attorneys will usually charge in increments of 15 minutes, a 5 minute phone call will still be billed for 15 minutes.
These fees are always negotiable, the worse they can say is NO.
Less complex cases may not need an attorney, a paralegal could be all that's needed to help with the paperwork. Fees range from $500.00 on up. This is a less expensive option compared to a divorce attorney, and if complexity is not the issue you can save quite a bit of money..
If your case is a simple divorce - where there is little to no assets or property in dispute, then the do it yourself option is the least expensive.
If you need help in finding the right lawyer, take a look at Legal Match - Find a Divorce Lawyer. They have a list of qualified attorneys in your area.