When it comes to divorce, there are a lot of questions and uncertainties. Hiring the right legal representation is one of the biggest decisions and it deserves a little extra attention when you’re in the process of preparing for your divorce. Of course, not all attorneys are created equal. You’ll want to make sure that you have a divorce lawyer who can assist you through the process and help you get a fair outcome. Unless you happen to be part of the one percent, you’ll also have to make sure that you can afford them.
It’s important to note that there’s a difference between factoring in your budget and choosing an attorney based on cost alone. Too often, people try to go the route of the latter, only to end up realizing that they didn’t really pay attention to what the lawyer does or whether they can even assist with a divorce case properly.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the flat-fee option and whether that’s a good choice for your divorce case.
What Is a Flat-Fee Divorce Attorney?
A flat-fee divorce attorney charges a single, flat rate for their services rather than charging by the hour. They will typically include a list of services or tasks that are included for that fee, which may also be called a fixed fee instead of a flat-rate or flat fee. In the past, many people thought they should shy away from these types of lawyers because surely, the complexities of divorce required more than what they could provide.
However, this is actually a viable option in some cases, and it can be the more economical one for those who are undergoing a simpler divorce. Fixed fees make it easier to budget for lawyer costs and ensure that you won’t have to keep sending payments to your attorney to keep the process going.
How Do Most Attorneys Charge?
Typically, most divorce lawyers charge an hourly rate. This requires you to pay a retainer, which is kind of like a down payment for their services. They will then use that retainer and bill you for services accordingly. Once the retainer has been spent, you will be informed and advised that you should send another payment. One $1,000 retainer could easily add up to more than $5,000 in divorce lawyer costs at this rate, and that’s on the low end of things.
Your attorney will include an invoice for all services rendered that includes a breakdown of how the retainer fees are used for each different service. The best lawyers will also advise you of what costs are left or what the potential balance could be once you reach a certain point in the legal process. However, it can get expensive when you are being charged hourly for a divorce lawyer, so some people are choosing to reconsider flat-fee services since there are more available today.
This is where you have to watch the less-than-reputable attorneys out there—otherwise you could end up paying a full hour’s fee for the sending of two emails, which only took about 10 minutes. Some hourly lawyers are on the lookout for ways to add up the billing hours. But then if you do your homework and find a reputable attorney, you should avoid this.
The Benefits of Flat-Fee Services
Several different benefits come from choosing a flat-fee divorce lawyer, most of which stem from the money savings that you get along the way. Provided that you still take the time to find a reputable attorney, you will enjoy perks like:
- Fewer billing disputes (or none at all!)
- An attorney who has the same goal as you
- Being able to ask endless questions
- Spending less on a lawyer gives you more to spend on other areas
- You can more easily budget for your divorce, which is already a money-conscious time
The Disadvantages of Flat-Rate Lawyers
If you have a complex divorce that requires a lot of research and legal elements, you might not be able to find a flat-fee lawyer who can handle everything that needs to be done within their rate range. If you have an uncontested divorce or a simple divorce with no children or real assets, you might not need an attorney for more than a handful of hours, in which case hourly services might be better.
You’re also limited as to the legal representation that you can choose if you stick with flat-fee services. Not all attorneys work under this structure and therefore you may not be able to get the best representation for your case. You should never go through a divorce without an attorney because you never know what might come up, but you can do with a lot less legal support when it’s a simple matter.
What Do I Do Now?
The best thing that you can do is to research your options for a divorce lawyer and choose one that can deliver the level of service that you need along with the type of support that will get you through your divorce hearing. If that ends up being a flat-fee divorce lawyer, that could be a great way to help your budget. If not, that’s okay, too. There are some cases where hourly attorneys just make more sense, or where you want someone with a specific reputation or type of experience.
If you’re facing divorce and you need support, take the time to find a divorce lawyer that you feel comfortable with. Regardless of how they charge, you need to know how well they can handle your case and if they will deliver the peace of mind that you deserve. After all, having the right legal assistance on your side in any divorce case is worth every penny that you spend, no matter how it’s billed. To learn more or get help with your divorce without breaking the bank, contact Modern Law today.