The biggest cost that you will face in divorce will come about as a result of your divorce attorney. Attorney fees can be extremely high. Regardless, in most cases it is important to have a lawyer represent you in court and guide you through this difficult and confusing process. It is advised that you have a divorce attorney handle your case, however, you do not need to hire the most expensive attorney in town. If you do some research, you might find a highly experienced lawyer who does not charge outrageous fees. This would be the ideal situation.
Furthermore, the more that you and your spouse can agree on outside of court, the less money you will have to spend on court fees, lawyer fees, and other legal costs. Consider working out as much as possible with your spouse before going to court if you are concerned about money.
Reducing Lawyer Fees
If you are talking to lawyers about your divorce, don’t ask them about their “retainer” fees. Ask them the average billing for the last 10 clients that look like your case. Make them put it in writing. Ask for names of former clients and call them and ask about the fee. A lawyer with a good relationship with their former clients shouldn’t have a problem with this. Search for the lawyer’s name on court online docket sheets and see if they have sued a lot of clients for fees. This might give you an example of lawyers who keep the clock running too long.
One of the best ways to keep divorce costs low is by acting quickly. The longer that divorce cases drag on, the more money you will have to pay. If you and your spouse can come to agreements quickly and avoid fighting over assets, you will be able to keep the cost of your divorce relatively low. In the sake of quickness, you should also consider getting a prenuptial agreement before you and your spouse get married. If you have a prenuptial agreement, this means that you and your spouse have already discussed divorce and have come to terms of an agreement in the event of a divorce. It is a sensible way to make sure that you and your spouse get what you want out of the divorce without fighting.
Communicating with Your Spouse
By discussing who will get what in a divorce before a divorce is a real possibility, you and your spouse will be more likely to work together and compromise. Even if you do not have a prenuptial agreement, you and your spouse should try to work with each other, as opposed to fighting constantly during the divorce. This will make the process go much quicker and potentially keep your case out of court. If you and your spouse can come to a divorce settlement agreement without involving a judge, the process will be much easier and faster. This will ultimately keep costs low.
One of the most important things that you can do to keep your divorce costs low is to know what you’re agreeing to in the settlement. Depreciating assets, hidden taxes, bad investments, and unrealistic budgets can all have astronomical costs. If you don’t have a plan for sorting through these hidden fees, you could go bankrupt as a result of your divorce.
Finding the Right Lawyer
Another good way to keep costs of a divorce low is to hire an affordable, experienced divorce lawyer. Know what you are paying for before you hire a divorce lawyer. Many lawyers offer a free consultation, so you should take advantage of this free meeting and get answers to your questions. Ask the lawyer questions about their services, how they plan to help you with your divorce, and, most importantly, what the costs will be. Make sure that the lawyer does not charge hidden fees. Also, try to find a lawyer who offers a flat fee instead of charging by the hour. I offer a flat fee and a free consultation. To discuss your divorce, you can contact my office.
Our Fee Policy
One of the biggest questions people have when contemplating divorce is the cost associated with it. Unlike most firms, we don’t hide our fees and the costs of divorce, we want you to come into this with open eyes and a full understanding of everything that is going on.
A retainer fee is an upfront fee that you must pay to hire the firm. The firm then takes this payment and puts it in trust for the client. The lawyer’s hourly rate (i.e. hours worked on the case), court costs, etc. will then be deducted from the retainer amount that you have in trust. Any amount of the retainer that is not used, will be refunded to you at the conclusion of the case or representation.
The biggest hurdle to hiring the lawyer of your choice is often the Retainer Fees. A Retainer Fee is an upfront payment or deposit paid to the lawyer at the time he or she is hired. As a lawyer, we don’t control the cost of cases, believe it or not. Our clients determine the cost based on the level of conflict. That means that the more complicated your case is, the higher your retainer may be. Our retainers are refundable as well so any portion of the retainer that is “unused” is refunded to you at the conclusion of your case. We can take a retainer fee by way of a credit card, a check, cash or someone else can make a deposit on your behalf. No matter what, the funds go into a trust account for you and remain your funds until we bill against them.
Amount of our Retainer:
Retainer Fees range from $5,000 to $50,000 depending on the complexity of the case. Most retainer amounts will range from $5000 to $10,000. Note however that, a replenishment would be required if the first deposit that you paid has been spent. The factors that increase the retainer are: (a) whether there are children involved in the suit; (b) assets involved in a divorce; (c) anticipated level of conflict; (d) the attorney on the other side; (e) Court that the case is filed in; and, (f) probability that a client will pay in the future.
Additional Funds: How will you pay for fees that go over the Retainer? There are a variety of methods, but usually it involves getting a bill and being asked to send in a check for more. Sometimes a client is required to keep a certain positive balance, called an “Evergreen Retainer” – because there is always green ($$) in the account. Our firm will send the client monthly invoices which provide detail of how time was spent working on the case, the cost for that month, and the amount of funds remaining in that client’s trust.
One of the toughest projects in a divorce is assembling all the financial records and determining the proper amounts in the filing of a Financial Affidavit. To make your life easier, we will assign a bookkeeping assistant to your file who will instruct you on the records you need to obtain and who will prepare your affidavit for your review and signature. This makes your life tremendously easier and reduces the costs of an attorney working on this bookkeeping function.