Legal Fees and Costs
We are frequently asked by clients how much their total legal fees will be for a divorce or legal separation. It's a reasonable question. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to give even an estimate of legal fees, because so much depends upon how your case unfolds. There is no typical fee for a custody dispute, for pursuing spousal support, a division of pensions, or for any of the other issues that may arise. Sometimes we are able to resolve matters quickly and amicably and sometimes there are prolonged negotiations or even Court proceedings.
For this reason Family Law lawyers do not quote a fixed fee for a given service. Rather fees are almost always calculated on an hourly basis. The hourly fee that we quote to you will depend upon the nature of your case, its complexity, whether Court proceedings are anticipated, and your financial means. Typically a retainer – a deposit against anticipated legal fees – is requested beforehand and is held in trust with our firm.
We will provide you with regular statements of account, so that you are always aware of how much you are incurring by way of legal fees. The statement of account is paid out of the retainer held in trust. If your matter is resolved quickly and amicably, then we would return to you the balance of your retainer funds. If your case is prolonged and difficult, it is possible that we will be obliged to approach you for an additional retainer to cover additional legal fees.
There are additional costs that can come up in family proceedings. These costs can be relatively minor – such as Court fees for filing a Petition for Divorce (about $160.00) and paying a process server (perhaps $100.00) – all the way up to substantial costs such as the appraisal of the family residence by a certified real estate appraiser ($400.00), fees for hiring an accountant (perhaps $150.00 per hour), or a custody assessment by a psychologist (perhaps $4,000.00).
Keep your Legal Costs Under Control:
Whatever costs you do incur for legal fees, accounting fees, or assessments and appraisals, it is important that you carefully monitor your costs. Do not let your emotions take over and allow you to become embroiled in a lengthy Court proceeding, when you might have avoided such a huge expense with some careful negotiation and strategic compromise.