One of the most common questions that many people have about the divorce process is in regard to how much it will cost. Most divorce attorneys will tell you that there is no way to know for sure how much you should expect to pay because it all depends on the complexity of your case and how quickly you and your spouse can resolve your differences. While there is little doubt the total cost of a divorce can be impossible to predict, there are a few financial questions that your divorce lawyer should be able to answer directly.
Some lawyers require you to pay a retainer fee when you hire them. This is, essentially, an advance payment for services to be rendered, and is often part of a contract that prevents your lawyer from serving as counsel to the other party in your case. Ask your attorney whether he or she requires a retainer and whether the payment is to be made all at once or over time. If the services he or she provides exceeds the retainer amount, find out how the balance is to be collected.
Your attorney should be very clear about what types of services he or she will charge you for and how much. Does the clock start every time you call the office or if he or she is reading an email from you? Is there a different rate for time spent in negotiations or in court? A lawyer is free to bill however he or she sees fit, within ethical limits, of course, but, if you know what is considered billable, you can plan your contact with your lawyer accordingly.
Hourly Rates and Billing Increments
When you ask a lawyer how much he or she charges, the hourly rate is only part of the equation. His or her billing increments are equally important as they can make a lawyer with a lower hourly rate much more expensive that you originally thought. For example, most attorneys will charge for services based a certain fraction of an hour, usually expressed in decimal form as tenths of an hour. Thus, every time your lawyer is working on your case, he or she may bill 0.1 hours, equaling six minutes. Some, however, will use 0.2 hours, or 12 minutes. These increments may be billed even if your lawyer spent 3 minutes on your case. A lawyer with a lower hourly rate may use larger minimum increments than one with a higher hourly rate, causing your actual costs to be more than you expected.
Get Honest Answers Today
If you are considering a divorce, you need a lawyer you count on to be fair and honest. Contact an experienced Orland Park divorce attorney at Kezy & Associates today. We will meet with you to discuss your case and what you can expect from our firm. Call 708-518-8200 for a free consultation.