No area of family law brings to the courtroom the tension, anxiety, hostility, volatility and raw emotion as child custody and visitation litigation. Rare is the divorce, dissolution or custody determination in which the parties have been able to set aside personal differences to reach the goal of what is best for the children involved. Most parents pay lip service to this ideal, but often cannot reach it in actuality. Most often a judge will take great pains to get parents themselves to come to a mutually acceptable custody agreement if that is possible. A decision made by a stranger is rarely completely acceptable to all if the attempt has not been made in earnest.
The family court systems of the states usually have several layers of counseling, mediation and conciliation to attempt to bring warring parents together for the purpose of resolving the issue of what it is in the best interests of their children. Family law attorneys understand that your children are the most important thing in your life and will fight for your legal rights.
The Cost Of Hiring An Attorney
Uncontested divorces are much less expensive than contested divorces. If you and your spouse agree on every single issue, our firm can prepare all of the proper pleadings and attend the hearing necessary to get you divorced. The total cost, including filing fees, is $1,864.00. This is a non-refundable retainer, so make sure that you and your spouse are in complete agreement before you pay for an uncontested divorce.
If the parties cannot agree upon every single issue, then the divorce is contested. There are typically four components that make up the “cost” of hiring our firm for a contested divorce:Initial Retainer
The initial retainer is the “up front” money that is held by the firm in our trust account. We require an initial retainer in the range of $2,500 to $5,000, depending upon the complexity of your case. Keep in mind that initial retainers are non-refundable. It is very rare that this issue arises, but this policy is necessary because our firm makes a commitment to your case from the beginning, and we actually regulate the number of new clients we accept based upon the number of clients we already have. So, in order to represent you, we frequently pass up opportunities to work with other prospective clients.
A lawyer’s hourly rate is typically a reflection of that lawyer’s education, training and experience. Hourly rates vary widely in the legal community of family lawyers. The idea behind different hourly rates is that a more experienced attorney will take less time to perform a task than a less experienced attorney. Therefore, the more experienced attorney should adjust his or her rate upward to be comparably compensated for the task. The better rationale is that the more experienced attorney has over the years learned from many more mistakes than the less experienced attorney. There is a definite value for life experiences in the practice of law!
The lawyer bills against the initial retainer at the hourly rate in fractions of an hour (like 10ths of an hour). So, for example, a 15 minute telephone conference is billed as .3 hours multiplied by a $250 hourly rate which equals $75.
When the initial retainer drops below a predetermined amount, such as $1000, the client is required to replenish the retainer to that amount on a periodic basis, such as once per month.
Separate from the retainer is an amount to pay for actual out-of-pocket expenses such as filing fees, service of process, deposition expenses, postage, etc. We typically require a $500 initial cost deposit which disappears pretty quickly because the filing fee is $364 and service of process is approximately $35. Depending upon the case, future cost deposits may become necessary.…