With new, collaborative divorce tools available, you may not need to hire a lawyer or go to court. If your divorce is likely to be contentious, and you anticipate going to court, competent legal counsel is essential. How much should you expect to pay? How do you know if a lawyer is right for you? Here are some things you should know before you begin your search for a lawyer.
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: Minerva Studio
The cost for an attorney ranges from $100 to $650 per hour, and the average cost per hour is about $250. An initial consultation is sometimes free, but more often, there will be a consultation fee. There might be a fixed consultation fee, or the lawyer may charge their hourly rate.
After an initial consultation, you may or may not decide to hire the lawyer in question.
Many divorce attorneys will work on a retainer, a set fee to secure the firm’s services for your divorce proceeding. Some firms charge a minimum of $5,000 or more to start the process. The more complicated your case, the higher the retainer. You should expect to replenish your initial retainer if you deplete it during your case.
It is a good sign if an attorney is up-front about the cost. You have the right, as a potential client, to know if the overall cost of a divorce with a particular lawyer fits within your budget.
Always remember that lawyers are not allowed to get a percentage of the settlement as their fee in a divorce.
Practicing law is a licensed profession, so an attorney must have a valid license to practice. Credentials are the easiest to check. Try calling your state’s bar association office. Most state (and city) bar associations will have referral services and can point you to the divorce lawyers in your area.
The highest price tag does not always mean the highest quality service. The key is finding the right lawyer for your case. Reputation, track record, and experience with cases like yours are all essential things to research.
Yelp and similar services can give you an overview of a lawyer’s reputation. More specifically, these services can help you determine what kind of cases a lawyer has handled in the past and whether their clients have had good experiences or bad ones.
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: Elnur
Mediation Is A Less Expensive Alternative
While a skilled mediator will cost about as much of a lawyer on an hourly basis, most couples find that working with a mediator takes far less time. Additionally, whereas hashing out your differences with lawyers requires you and your spouse to have separate lawyers, you will only need one mediator. As a result, choosing a mediator and creating your own divorce agreement, rather than going to court and hiring two lawyers, will dramatically reduce how much you both spend on your divorce. Get started with a BlissDivorce mediator today!
*This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice. If you require legal advice, please contact a licensed attorney in your local area.