If you’ve found yourself in the position of needing legal help for a divorce or separation, then you’ve probably found yourself in unfamiliar territory. You might be asking yourself questions like ‘How am I going to find an affordable divorce attorney?’, ‘How much is this going to cost?’ and ‘What’s the Next Step?’. Divorce is a very challenging and emotionally charged time for the parties involved; it’s easy to see how the process can bring out the worst in people. On top of all the other stressful things you might be dealing with, trying to navigate finding an affordable, qualified divorce attorney shouldn’t be one of them.
One highly overlooked area people often neglect to ask about while searching for a divorce attorney is how they will be charged for services rendered.
How Do Attorneys Bill Their Clients?
There are a number of different ways attorneys can bill their clients, and it usually varies by the type of law being practiced. The most common types are hourly, flat and retainer fees.
- Hourly Fee: The most common type of attorney fee. Attorneys charge based on the number of hours of work they put into your case.
- Flat Fee: A wholly-encompassing fee paid upfront for legal services. This is usually charged for very predictable legal processes.
- Retainer Fee: Similar to a down payment, the client pays a sum of money upfront and the attorney withdraws their fees as necessary. Any unused monies are returned to the client.
What Should I Do If My Attorney’s Bill Seems Too High?
The first thing you should do is talk with your attorney. Most attorneys will execute a written fee agreement, so any discrepancies could be a simple misunderstanding or miscommunication. Worst case scenario, they provide you with a detailed explanation of their fees charged. It’s important to discuss fees upfront with your attorney so they have an idea of your financial situation and can manage their hours to fit your budget. Legal work tends to add up quicker than you expect it to.
If your discussion doesn’t resolve the issue, your next course of action should be arbitration or mediation, where a neutral third party should be able to resolve your issue. Lastly, you might need to find another attorney to represent you in your arbitration hearing if it gets that far.
Most importantly, hiring an affordable divorce attorney shouldn’t add stress to your already eventful situation. With a little due diligence up front, and knowing what you can expect, making sure you find an affordable divorce attorney during one of the most hectic times in your life shouldn’t be a problem.