20 Jul How Much Will This Cost?
I have sat across from many people in need of legal services for divorce, child custody and related legal services. Many people struggle to afford to employ the services of an experienced family lawyer in order to remedy their most pressing domestic problems, and the question on the minds of my Clients during our first meeting is: How Much Will This Cost?
Family law cases are often less expensive than civil law suits. This is so because the majority of family law litigants seek a quick resolution along with a quick end to the onerous expense.
To understand the expense of starting or defending a family law case, it is important to understand the services required by the rules of procedure, and the services a competent family lawyer can perform to help ensure success.
Services Required by Family Law Rules of Procedure and Florida Statutes in order to obtain the relief you seek:
- Drafting proper documents that are both legally sufficient and contain language that reflect the outcome you require or hope to acquire.
- Disclosing financial disclosures (and other discovery) and acquiring the same so that both parties can be informed about the strengths and weaknesses of their case. Discovery is also important so that clients can make knowing, intelligent and voluntary decisions about how to proceed with their case.
- Attend formal mediation in order to attempt partial or complete settlement of their case.
- Pretrial preparations. It is important to discuss with your attorney as to what measures can be performed before trial in order to help increase your likelihood for success.
- Attend and conduct trial.
Your attorney should be able to give you estimates for the above services. Please know that preparation and completion of each of the described services can be brief or highly involved depending on the complexity of the facts and legal issues surrounding your case.
Most modifications, paternity actions and divorces cost my Clients between $3,000 to $5,000 dollars. Some actions can be less if the parties are able to reach a quick settlement, and some actions can cost more if they are required to have a full or multiple day trial.
The most important things to consider about predicting the costs of your legal action:
- What is your lawyer’s hourly rate; and if your lawyer charges a flat rate then what happens if the unexpected happens. Stated another way, if your lawyer is not going to provide you with hourly billing (with detailed invoices), then how do you know what you are paying for? IF you really want to understand costs in relationship to what you will need to succeed with your family law case, then you must really understand the difference between hourly vs flat fee billing.
- How much can you and your lawyer truly predict about the length and cost of your case at the beginning?
- There should be complete transparency between you and your lawyer. Every document created and received by your lawyer should be copied and provided to you. Every communication sent and received by your lawyer about your case should be shared with you. Complete transparency is the most effective way to establish trust between attorney and client.
- The character of the lawyers and judge involved with your case can often effect the expense of completing your case. In other words, if the lawyers really care about their clients, then they will offer advice that will promote a quick and fair resolution.
I encourage potential clients to carefully read this article before we meet so that we can have a meaningful conversation about how much your case will cost.
Finally, feeling comfortable and having trust with the lawyer you hire to represent you and prosecute your case is the best way of knowing whether your money was wisely spent. If you trust your lawyer’s advice, then you will better know if it is worth the risk to take your case for a Judge’s decision or whether you are better off with a settlement resolution.
This article was written by Attorney Bradley Sherman, and he welcomes you to his DeLand office for a free initial consultation.