How Much Should Your Attorney Charge You?

How much does a typical family law action cost?  As with any question posed to a lawyer, the answer can be many. 

There are different types of actions in family law. There are basic divorces, there are modifications of alimony, modification of child support, modification of custody.  Additionally there are enforcement actions such as a Motion for Contempt for violating timesharing or violating visitation. A Motion for Contempt for violating shared parental responsibility.  There are emergency motions to prevent a relocation of a child from the jurisdiction. Emergency motions for medical treatment. 

Family law truly runs the gamut of issues.  The basic answer is a family law case usually costs as much as you make it cost. What that means, is the more attorneys fight the more they charge.  There are some firms that offer flat fee services and do not charge by the hour, but be very careful with those type firms.  They may very well be extremely ethical and outstanding law firms, but just be on the lookout for the human nature aspect that basically says “if I am getting a flat fee, the quickest and easiest way I can get out of this case the more money I will actually earn”. The commodity most lawyers sell is their time. 

As such, lawyers and their paralegal and senior staff usually charge an hourly fee.  Fees can range from $150.00 an hour to anywhere around $1,000.00 an hour.  Do not assume, however, that because a lawyer charges a lot of money per hour that means they are good.  That is the oldest trick in the book.  There are absolutely some lawyers who charge a ton of money per hour that are the best lawyers in the entire state of Florida, just be careful. 

A study of the average divorce at our firm ended up costing approximately $6,500.00. There are many divorces that were much less than that and a few divorces that were much more than that.  Knowing the average divorce at a firm is really no help to any individual.  The reason it is no help, is that every care is slightly different.  The only thing that is consistent is, the more you fight the more you pay.  That is basically the truth with every single firm.  Remember, lawyers are selling their time. Knowing this, you should try to keep unnecessary contact to a minimum. This does not mean that you should not get outstanding customer service.  If you need to speak with somebody you must call.  But, if you are concerned about your bill, just get to the point. 

At our firm, what we have done to try to help clients is send informational memos at no charge.  We recognize that most of our clients are going through a divorce for the first time.  We go through divorces every single day.  We make sure to remember that. You will have a lot of questions during the process and you should call and ask.  A good firm, tries to give you the information before you ask.  That is what we try to do. 

With a typical law firm in the State of Florida, you can expect to have to come up with a retainer of anywhere around approximately $2,000.00 to approximately $10,000.00. Obviously your case may require less or more, but this is a pretty good average.  Normally, people cannot believe a divorce costs this much.  There are a few reasons.  One is the Florida Statutes make us do certain things that are time consuming in a divorce.  The biggest reason, however, is that what one person believes is fair is usually not what the spouse believes is fair and therein lies the fight.  When looking for a lawyer, make sure to find out what the hourly rates are for the attorney and for their staffs.  Most firms, like ours, has a specific a specific retainer agreement that lays out everything. Never go into the hiring of an attorney blinded, always get information. 

Contact us if you have any questions!

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