Divorces can vastly range in price depending on the case circumstances. Many factors impact the cost of a divorce, including how agreeable the parties are or if a trial is necessary. Uncontested divorce, where the parties are agreeable on all topics, are generally the most cost-efficient divorce. However, it is not uncommon for a divorce case to start out amicable and become high-conflict. It is also not uncommon for contentious divorces to settle in mediation. Because of the unpredictable nature of divorces, attorneys rarely can give you a set total for your divorce. Instead, the most common type of fee structure in a divorce case is hourly rates with an initial retainer amount.
Each firm and attorney will handle billing differently. When you consult with a law firm, you will want to ask them specific questions about their fees and billing practices.
Most divorce cases are billed on an hourly structure with an initial retainer amount. A retainer is an advance that a law firm requires before they start work on your file. The retainer funds are deposited into a trust account and your legal team will bill their hourly rates to the account each month. You should receive monthly statements itemizing the attorney and paralegal billable time and the remaining balance of your retainer amount in the trust account. If your trust funds get low, you may be asked to replenish the account.
An attorney’s hourly rate can vary based on region and experience. They typically range between $250 and $400 per hour, depending on location and experience. You will also want to ask the hourly rates of the other legal staff such as paralegals or legal assistants. The legal support professionals will assist the attorney and also help to keep your costs down.
Most firms will outline their billing practices in a legal document called a retainer agreement. It is important to ask when you are billed and when you will receive statements. The billing practices should also outline how expenses are handled. Are case expenses billed to your trust account and shown on your statements? Common expenses include filing fees, process server fees, expert fees, paper and copying fees, or postage.
At the law firm of Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd., we take pride in being fully transparent with our billing structure. We understand divorce can be expensive, but we do our best to try to keep your costs low while still protecting your interests. If you are thinking about filing for divorce or would like more information, contact our office today. Our attorneys and legal staff are ready to assist. Call our office at (763) 783-5146, or submit an online inquiry request through our website.