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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Divorce Lawyers Fee Structures

|Guest Post by Dick Critchlow|

Before you begin any divorce proceedings it is important to understand the process is not going to be cheap. While it is possible to do it yourself, if you have any children or marital assets this may not be in your best interest. Rather than do something you may regret later it might be better to hold off filing for divorce and just prolong the separation until you are in a better financial position to hire a divorce lawyer with the expertise to guide you through the divorce steps.

Another important thing to keep in mind is there is no one fee structure—this is not a "one size fits all" process. While the lawyer may quote you a beginning price, there are several other factors that will increase that fee and determine how much you will actually pay when the divorce is final:

  • Amount of research required to prepare your case
  • The complexity of your divorce settlement
  • The number of ancillaries required to finalize your divorce
  • How long you were married (has substantial bearing on the amount of research and assets)
  • The amount of negotiation required to reach an agreement (if you and your spouse are agreeable to the terms it will be quicker and easier)
There are many different factors that weigh into the equation; this is why divorce lawyers set their fees using a combination of flat fees and hourly rates. This is why you will really never know the exactly cost of your divorce until it reaches court—there are too many different factors to consider. The best you will ever get is an estimate and any number of factors can change that as stated in the above list. While they may have a general idea how much time it should take to perform the background research and present your case in court, an uncooperative spouse can cause those costs to skyrocket.

During the research phase of your research when you are trying to compare costs of divorce lawyers, you need to keep several things in mind:

  • The complexity of the case plays a significant role in he fee structure
  • A large law firm is likely to charge more than a private practice divorce lawyer
  • Experienced lawyers will charge a higher fee than those who have less experience (this doesn't mean you should choose an inexperienced lawyer but perhaps choose someone with less experience in order to save some money on your divorce)
  • Lawyers with a large following charge more than those who are not as well-known (think high profile cases here)
Another option that may be open to you is using a mediator to negotiate the terms of your divorce agreement. This doesn't mean you don't need the divorce lawyer, but you can save money if you enlist the services of a mediator to conduct the negotiations. The mediator usually has a set fee instead of the hourly fee you need to pay divorce lawyers for the same service. Of course, this requires cooperation from you and your spouse; the mediator does not set terms as the lawyer will but rather helps you negotiate the terms.

2 comments:

  1. These tips are invaluable! Divorce takes careful planning and its best done in a business and professional manner. All too often people get carried away with the emotions and end up with results they didn't want. You can find great advice on your legal questions by visiting www.legal-yogi.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. When you are looking to hire a lawyer, thing you should keep in mind is that lawyer fees should be reasonable and i must say that points you made is very good, did get good information.
    family law firms Sydney
    http://www.cmalegal.com.au/family-law/

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