We have the responsibility to tell every potential client that we “aren’t sure.” Now…how’s that for building credibility with someone who wants to entrust their life with you for a bit?
The truth is that we really don’t know how much a divorce is going to cost in the end. An attorney who tells you they do probably isn’t being up front with you. A host of issues beyond our control play a part in every case. Much depends on what county your case is filed in, what the mindset of the opposing attorney is, who the judge is in your case and what issues are contested.
Your case has a 95% probability of settling before trial. The overall costs associated with the case depend greatly on the point in time your case is resolved. With contested cases, we require an initial retainer paid to the firm which is then placed into our client trust account. We draw on that money as we perform work on the file. The retainer is refundable, meaning if money remains following the conclusion of your case it is returned to you. On the other hand, if we use up the initial retainer and your case has yet to conclude, we require you to replenish the trust account in an amount equal to anticipated work on the file in the near future.
To offer a few examples, we have had contested cases settle after just one month of negotiation and the involvement of a couple of experts. The total fees in that case were approximately $3,500.00 per side. On the other hand, we have had cases that were tried 18 months after they were filed with the District Court. Trial lasted about a week. Issues including domestic abuse, child custody and parental alienation were involved. Numerous experts were retained. The fees and costs in that complex, disputed case totaled over $35,000.
We take a common sense approach to family cases. The $35,000 trial-destined to actions make up very small share of the cases we handle. The vast majority cost far less, as long as the parties are willing to be reasonable and flexible when it comes time to make the tough decisions. While we can’t answer the ultimate question of how much your case will cost, we hope the foregoing information provides some sort of guidance for you as you prepare to budget for your divorce.