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Flat Fee Divorce vs. Hourly Attorney

Getting a divorce has the potential to be quite expensive. This is especially true with complicated cases where the couple can’t agree on much when it comes to splitting up their assets, their parenting schedule, etc. The longer the divorce goes on the more expensive it will be, especially when you are working with an attorney. However, it doesn’t always have to be quite so costly, there are some key differences to a flat fee vs hourly attorney. There are some other options. Let’s look at the most common ways of working with attorneys and getting your divorce handled.

An Hourly Attorney

First, there is the option of hiring an hourly attorney for your case. They will have an hourly fee whether they are working on research for the case, writing out paperwork, or are negotiating or litigating for you. This is what most people think about when they imagine hiring an attorney. The attorney is there for you when you need them, but you are going to be paying their hourly rate.

As you can expect, this will be the costliest option. You are paying each time you engage their services. They will bill for partial hours, and sometimes, it’s hard to keep track of just how much things could end up costing. This is especially true if your case isn’t resolved and settled easily. If you have to go to trial, the cost of a divorce could easily be in the tens of thousands of dollars or more.

Depending on the circumstances of your divorce and your finances, this might not always be the best option for your case. Instead, you might want to consider a flat fee divorce.

Flat Fee Divorce

When you choose a flat fee divorce, you will be able to lock in a price for the divorce or other family law cases. This option is not available with all attorneys, of course, as it will shift the risk away from you and to the attorney.

A flat fee divorce will provide you with more certainty. When you choose this model, you will know exactly how much your divorce is going to cost you from start to finish. This will make it easier for you to budget. You won’t have to worry about spending more if the case doesn’t proceed smoothly. As the client, you take far less risk when you work with an attorney that can offer flat fee services.

Because the attorneys are working for a flat fee, you will also find that it encourages the attorneys to be as efficient as possible. They work hard to get you the results you want for less than you would have to pay using an hourly attorney.

Another Option—Pay for What You Need

While flat fee divorce attorneys could be a good option to help you save money, there is another option that you could consider, as well. You can opt for what is called limited-scope representation. Another term sometimes used for this is called unbundling. It simply means that you only use the services of an attorney when you need them, and not for every aspect of your case.

For example, you might want to hire an attorney to help with some of the things like getting some legal information and advice about the case when you need it. You will take care of the paperwork and other matters. Other times, you might hire them for the paperwork, while you handle negotiations or litigation. There are countless ways that you can do this.

Essentially, it is an a la carte system, where you can pick and choose what you need and when you need it. The more you choose, the more expensive it will be. However, it’s still going to be more affordable than a traditional hourly attorney.

Keep in mind that for some services, such as paperwork, you could work with legal assistants rather than an attorney. this has the potential to help you save even more money on your divorce. However, paralegals are not allowed to provide you with legal advice. This will have to come from an attorney instead.

What About a DIY Divorce?

Some people might be considering getting a DIY divorce. There are options available to do your own divorce, and in some cases, it could work out quite well. For example, if you have a relatively simple divorce where you and your ex agree on the terms, there isn’t much of a reason to get attorneys involved.

Those who don’t have children and who do not need to split up a substantial amount of property will find that it could be a great option because it can work quickly and cost just a small amount.

Of course, a lot of divorces simply won’t be this easy. There are other factors that complicate things. Whether it is issues with the parenting time, how certain assets and debts are split, or other problems, they become more complex. While it may still be possible to handle the divorce on your own, it will become more difficult. Typically, you will only want to use a DIY divorce for simple divorces.

If you start the process of a DIY divorce and you feel that it has become too complex, at least consult with an attorney to get a better sense of what you should do. Check the options that you have available.

What’s Right for You?

When you are choosing how to get your divorce, you will want to make sure that you find the option that will work right for you. Don’t just immediately hire an hourly attorney. you could be spending far more than you need to. Consider the issues and complications with your divorce and then determine whether you might be able to do it on your own, or if working with a limited scope attorney is a good option. Flat fee divorces can be fantastic, too, for those who have a bit more money but who still want to save when compared with an hourly rate.


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