The decision to end a marriage is a big step that brings about many questions, especially if you have never been through a divorce. Finding someone who can answer those questions brings a sense of peace and comfort during an incredibly difficult time. The cost of legal representation may be the furthest thing from your mind. Before you make a decision about the attorney you hire, consider how you will be billed for any services that the divorce attorney performs on your behalf.
When you first meet with an attorney about your divorce, discuss the firm’s billing method. Will it be by the hour, or does the firm offer a flat-fee divorce rate? Knowing the difference between the two can help you make the best decisions for your financial future.
If you are billed by the hour, any work that the attorney does will result in a charge to you. Driving to court or making copies of documents? That will cost you. Waiting in court to have your case heard or calling to check the status? Yes. You will clearly see it itemized on your statement at the end of the month. Arguing with the other side over minute details? Get your wallet ready.
Divorce attorneys who bill by the hour have an interest in allowing your case to slowly work its way through the process. Parenting plans that could have been resolved in a short meeting become costly custody battles. Property division matters which the parties may have agreed to suddenly are no longer in your best interests. Unnecessary fighting between the attorneys will keep driving up the cost of the divorce, making it difficult for you to emerge from the divorce financially sound.
Flat-Fee Divorce Often Results in a Quicker Dissolution
With a flat-fee divorce, you know right away what the divorce will cost you. The divorce lawyer performing the flat-fee divorce tells you exactly what he or she will charge you to handle your case – no hidden costs, no extra charges for the help you need. You know that your divorce attorney will be working diligently on your case, because the attorney has an incentive to move the case forward. Each family law attorney may have a different flat-fee billing method, so be sure to discuss what exactly the flat fee covers.
You want your divorce to be over as soon as possible – it is why you decided to get a divorce in the first place. Do not blindly sign a fee-agreement without knowing what it will cost you. Even if your divorce is extremely contentious and frustrating, imagine how you will feel writing a huge check to your divorce lawyer every month. Take a close look at your situation, and discuss the options that are available to you. It could save you a lot of time, money and frustration.
Related Resource: Huffington Post “Divorce ‘Cents’: Flat Fee Divorce”