Talk to Your Divorce Lawyer About Billing Practices
Divorce can be an expensive proposition. Depending on how your case is ultimately decided, you could end up paying thousands of dollars in maintenance and child support, not to mention the value of the marital property that is allocated to your ex-spouse. The process itself can also be quite costly. Court fees and other expenses can add up quickly, especially if the proceedings drag on for months. Of course, for many who are considering divorce, one of the biggest questions is often how much an attorney will cost. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to that question, since so much depends on the circumstances of each case and the individual lawyer or law firm you choose.
Hourly or Flat Rate
One of the first questions you should ask any lawyer you are thinking about hiring is whether they will charge you an hourly rate or a flat rate for a particular type of case. Some attorneys, for example, will offer a flat rate for a simple divorce between two people with no children and a limited amount of marital property. In most cases, however, an attorney will by the hour—or, more accurately, by fractions of an hour. Speak with your lawyer about what their minimum billing increment is.
Some firms track time by the quarter hour, while others use tenths of an hour, or six-minute intervals. While the difference may not matter very much when the attorney is spending hours at a time on your case, you need to know if and how you will be charged for two-minute phone calls or email responses. Depending on each firm’s billing increments, a $200 per hour lawyer can end up costing as much or more than a $300 per hour lawyer for the same amount of actual work.
Incidentals and Expenses
For some attorneys, the hourly rate is only part the equation. In addition to paying for the lawyer’s time, you may also be responsible for covering the cost of photocopies, postage, and other incidental expenses. Some firms may also charge you for the time spent talking about your case within the office. It is important to learn as much as you can about your lawyer’s billing plan to avoid unpleasant surprises later.
Travel and In-Court Rates
Will your lawyer charge you for the time he or she spends driving to the courthouse for a hearing? If so, will it be at the same rate as all of his or her other work? You should also ask if your attorney charges extra for the hours he or she spends in the courtroom. In some cases, this rate may be double or triple than that for routine office work. While paying extra for court time may be unavoidable, you deserve to know what to expect in advance.
Contact Us Today
At Kezy & Associates, we welcome your questions about our billing practices, and we will provide straightforward answers so that you can make an informed decision. If you are considering a divorce, contact one of our experienced Orland Park family law attorneys for a free consultation today. Call 708-518-8200 for an appointment.