Attorney Fees and Divorce

Expectations and Communication

The agreement between you and your divorce attorney should include a clear understanding about what each can expect from the other. The success of a case often depends on how well you and your attorney cooperate and whether you are working in sync with each other. The attorney has a right to expect you to pay the agreed upon fees in a timely way, and you have the right to expect your attorney to support your goals, to perform at the highest levels possible to achieve them and to communicate with you in an on-going way as the case proceeds. The importance of the attorney/client relationship cannot be overstated. If there is a lack of understanding or a lack of communication and support from either you or your attorney the case may suffer, and neither you nor your attorney will be satisfied.

Attorney fees: How Much Will It Cost

Attorney fees depend on the amount of time required to bring a case to final resolution, either through an out-of-court settlement or a court trial. The time it takes depends on a number of factors — the kind of process the client chooses to resolve the case, the complexity of the case, the degree of cooperation between the parties, the degree of cooperation between the attorneys, whether the attorney and the client are working together as a team, and whether the case can be settled on common grounds or must go to trial.

Hourly Billing Or Flat Fee

Some cases are relatively straightforward, and this may allow the attorney to estimate accurately how much time is necessary for final resolution. In such a situation, the attorney may agree to represent you for a “flat” or specific fee to resolve the case. Other cases may be more complex or uncertain, and the billing will occur on an hourly basis. Under this circumstance, a retainer agreement is signed that requires advance payment for a specific number of hours of the attorney’s time. If it turns out that less time is spent to complete the case, monies are refunded. If more time is spent, additional monies are paid to cover the extra hours required to complete the case. Time is billed in increments of a tenth of an hour.

What Does A Billing Include

An attorney’s primary tasks for which you are billed include:

  • Client / attorney consultations by phone, fax, email and office visits
  • Consultations with other attorneys and third parties by phone, fax, email and office visits
  • Drafting and reviewing legal and other documents
  • Drafting and reviewing letters
  • File review
  • Administration of service of process and ensuring that court documents are properly filed with the court
  • Legal research
  • Court appearances
  • Negotiation and /or court preparation
  • Trial or other contested hearings
  • Travel to out of office sites on behalf of the client