Divorce can be one the most expensive and important financial events in your life. I understand that few people can afford litigation in family court, much less years of child and spousal support payments. To help clients pursue their legal interests in family court I offer a low retainer fee and affordable hourly rate.
Nearly all divorce attorneys charge a retainer fee at the start. A retainer fee functions as a security deposit. It’s held by the attorney to secure payment for future work. When the attorney later performs work and bills their client, they will either deduct that amount from the retainer fee or charge the client’s credit card.
My retainer fee is typically $6,000. That secures over a dozen hours to progress my client’s case toward the desired resolution.
Most clients don’t want to pay their divorce attorney by the hour, but unfortunately hourly billing is the standard in contested cases. In hourly billing the client pays a retainer which the attorney bills against as they work on the case. The client will receive monthly statements showing what tasks the attorney performed, how much time was spent on each task, and how much was billed according to the attorney’s hourly rate. As the divorce attorney continues to work on the client’s case the retainer may become depleted via hourly billing, at which time the client will make another payment to refill the balance of the retainer.
I understand that hourly billing can be unpredictable and costly for my clients at a time when their financial future may depend heavily upon effective legal representation. To help clients protect their legal interests I charge an affordable hourly rate of $350 per hour and accept credit card payments.
Why I Usually Don’t Offer Flat Fees
Nearly everyone wants to hire a divorce attorney for a flat fee, but in only a few circumstances is this advisable. The typical flat fee case involves a short duration of marriage, no children, cooperation between the parties, and few assets. When these circumstances exist a flat fee arrangement can be beneficial as long as there continues to be no disagreement between the parties.
I used to offer limited scope representation in uncontested divorce cases. My flat fee covered all preparation necessary to finalize an uncontested divorce. Specifically, I prepared the petition, summons, schedule of assets and debts, income and expense declarations, declaration of disclosure, declaration regarding service of declaration of disclosure, declaration under UCCJEA, and judgment documents.
In 2022, I stopped offering flat fees for limited scope representation in most cases. Over time I found that parties encountered some level of disagreement throughout the process and are better served by retaining separate counsel. Specifically, bother parties have questions and need individual guidance throughout the process, and sometimes a party is not well-suited to negotiate on their own behalf. Accordingly, even in uncontested cases, I now charge an hourly rate to better represent the interests of one party; my individual client.