Divorces are frustrating enough as it is. Not only are emotions running high but also you’re dealing with some pretty big decisions.
All of that causes a lot of stress. In fact, divorce ranks second on the Holmes-Raye life stress inventory.
Worrying about what the lawyer will cost, and how you will pay for it, just makes everything worse.
Let’s take a look at some common divorce lawyer costs. The more you understand how the fees work, the less you’ll have to stress about it.
Divorce Lawyer Costs Breakdown
The average cost of a divorce is about $12,800. But the actual cost of your divorce can vary widely
A lot of factors affect this. Uncontested divorces are the cheapest and easiest. Contested divorces are the ones that you see getting ugly and expensive. If there are children involved then you’ll have to tack on child custody lawyer fees as well.
Here we’ll give you a quick explanation of the different types of fees that you may encounter when dealing with a family law attorney.
This is the cost of your initial consultation with your attorney. Some attorneys offer free consultations. Others may charge a flat or hourly rate for the meeting.
It is not common to see contingency fees in family law, but they do appear on occasion. These fees mean that the attorney receives compensation if they win the case. This usually translates to a percentage of the monetary amount awarded.
In child custody and other family law matters, the courts may prohibit lawyers from earning contingency fees.
A flat fee is a very simple fee structure. The lawyer charges a set amount and that’s what you pay. This is most commonly seen in uncontested divorces that appear to be simple from the start.
More commonly, however, divorce attorneys charge hourly rates. This means you will be billed their hourly rate for every hour they spend working on your case.
What makes this a little more confusing is that the hourly rate is not always the same. Some lawyers charge differently for administrative tasks vs going to court.
Attorneys that work in large firms will sometimes hand the more menial tasks to paralegals or less experienced associates. In that case, those hours are typically billed at a cheaper rate.
Sometimes when lawyers refer one another they request a referral fee. This is usually a portion of whatever you end up paying total for the case. The fee, however, must be reasonable and you can decide whether or not to agree to it.
The retainer fee is an upfront set amount that you pay for the attorney to begin working on your case. It’s kind of like making a down payment. As the attorney works on your case, the cost of services is deducted from that amount.
Clear as Mud
Depending on the particulars of your case, you still might find divorce lawyer costs to be as clear as mud. But we hope that this quick explanation of fees and terms commonly used in family law will help you to make sense of it all.
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