The dissolution of a marriage is an emotionally and financially draining process. Professional legal fees and expenses can become one of your biggest concerns. When searching for a divorce lawyer, you may feel tempted to save money upfront by finding the cheapest option but there’s a high cost of hiring the wrong attorney.
Like any major investment, you should know the cost and legal fees from the onset so you know you are getting the best value for your money. If you are informed, aware, and make wise decisions, your financial investment in your divorce will be worth every dime to protect you and your children’s future.
Legal fees for divorce can add up and the total expense is not always predictable in the beginning. You’ll want to develop a plan early on for financing your divorce. You should speak openly with your lawyer about how you will be charged. In most cases, California requires a written fee agreement which should be readily available for you to review. Some attorneys offer free consultations but questions about your divorce require a complete look at the facts, circumstances, and background of your marriage. To obtain good legal advice it’s best to schedule an initial consultation with a lawyer who is experienced in handling divorce cases.
If finances are tight and you need to get a divorce quickly you will want to borrow money for legal fees. Charge the fees to a low-interest credit card and talk to your attorney about using money held in a joint account with your spouse.
Divorce attorneys typically work on a retainer which is a lump sum paid to your lawyer in advance for legal services and fees incurred in your divorce. Your attorney will charge by the hour and bill against this advance. A retainer is required as an assurance that they will receive payment for the work performed on your behalf. The size of the retainer varies depending on the nature of your case. Complex family law matters such as contested custody, divorces that involve businesses or interstate disputes will require larger retainers. Factors such as the number of disputed issues, the degree of conflict between the parties, and the stage of the divorce during the dissolution process all play a role in the size of the retainer. If there are fewer contested matters and less divorce paperwork, the retainer is much smaller.
California attorneys are required to bill clients at least every thirty days. The bill will itemize the services performed, the time spent, and any fees incurred such as the costs for court reporters, court testimony, deposition transcripts, research expenses, copy expenses, and/or interest charged to your account.
A good attorney will educate you on what sticking points are worth negotiating and point out the truly important issues that are worth fighting over. The best lawyers will help reach a resolution where both sides feel like they’ve won and that no one was taken advantage of in the process. You won’t regret paying for an advocate who helps negotiate a fair and balanced deal that allows you the best financial footing to begin the next chapter of your life.