From the professional name itself, family lawyers basically focus on family-related issues and relations. In most cases, they represent their clients who are filing for divorce and assist them in divorce-related matters such as alimony, the division of marital properties, as well as, child custody and support.
In addition to divorce cases, they draft the details and specifications in prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Moreover, they deal with legal adoption and guardianship, family neglect, and juvenile delinquency. They also help clients who are victims of domestic violence like child abuse and defend those who have been accused of such crimes.
Costs of Family Lawyers
Evidently, family lawyers have many duties and responsibilities, which may explain why they charge certain service fees. But how much does a family law attorney cost whenever their legal expertise is hired?
According to Tucson-based law firm Elkins & Pones, PLLC, there is no standard cost of family lawyer since it usually varies according to what the issue is all about. And most of the time, family lawyers do not have an idea on the scope of the conflict.
But based on Lawyers.com, the family court lawyer cost can be paid in several ways. They can charge on an hourly basis or ask for flat fees. There are also cases when the clients have to pay retainer fees on contingency payments.
Apparently, this is the most common payment arrangement for the cost of family lawyer or all lawyers in general. Clients will have to pay the rate for every hour the attorney spends on the case until it is resolved. As such, how much does a family law attorney cost if it is paid on an hourly basis?
The family court lawyer cost ranges from $100 to $400 per hour, depending on the lawyer’s experience, operating expenses, the location. When the family attorneys are based in rural areas, they usually charge an hourly rate of $100 to $200 per hour. Meanwhile, the service fees of family lawyers in major cities may range from $200 to $400 per hour or higher.
However, choosing to pay cheaper fees is not always the better option. If you hire a highly experienced family lawyer, then you can expect the issue will be resolved faster than you think. Moreover, he or she can tell you how many hours is needed to resolve a particular case, providing you with a better and clear cost estimate.
In simplest terms, a flat fee refers to a specific, total family court lawyer cost. This is commonly given if a client’s case is simple and has been defined properly. It can be applied on an uncontested divorce, which happens both parties have reached a certain agreement with regards to child custody and support, spousal support, or division of marital properties, and the spouse has either agreed to have the divorce or failed to show up during the divorce action. Aside from divorce cases, a flat fee is also charged when wills are being drafted and simple bankruptcy cases are being filed.
If the lawyer charges a flat fee, then make sure that you know and understand what items are covered and are not included in the payment. There are instances when filing fees are paid separately.
Typically, a retainer is an advanced payment based on an hourly cost of family lawyer to deal with a particular family-related or domestic case. Once the retainer fee is given, the attorney places it in a trust account and deducts from it when the costs of legal services have been accumulated.
If you have this payment arrangement to cover for the family court lawyer cost, then ensure to review the periodic billing statements, which show the costs subtracted from the retainer fee, while the legal representation is still going on. Apparently, retainer fees are usually non-refundable unless the court has labeled them with “unreasonable.” In cases when you decide to drop the case before the lawyer has used up all the fee, then you may not get back the remaining amount.
Other Types of Payment Arrangements
For this mode of payment, the lawyer gets a percentage of the amount won in the case. If for instance, the case has been lost, then the attorney will receive any contingency fee. However, the client still has to pay some expenses.
The percentages of contingency fees depend on the lawyer or what the court has granted. The most common share is one-third of the total award (if the has been won). There are instances when the lawyer offers a sliding scale, basing it on the length or how far the case has gone before it is resolved.
There are also some circumstances when the court decides how much the lawyer can receive as his or her contingency payment. This is usually given to cases like damage to property, personal injury, or anything that involves a large sum of money. But contingency fees are highly prohibited in criminal cases, child support, and divorce issues.
When you are having legal concerns with your family, it is recommended to consult a family lawyer first. For this reason, consultation fees may have fixed or hourly payment for the first meeting, determining whether the attorney is capable of handling the case.