Average Cost For Divorce and Family Law Attorney
What is the Average Cost for Divorce and Family Attorneys?
There comes a time in the lives of many people when they will have to consider calling a family law attorney in Orlando, FL and for most people, the part they are most afraid of is the thought of how much this will cost. This does not have to be as scary as most people make it out to be.
These days there are several ways that different law firms conduct their billing of retainers.
Flat Fee Retainer: This is a set up where the attorney promises you that for some amount of money he will be on the case until a set point regardless of the time commitment needed to get to that point. Most of the time in family law it is from start to the end of mediation and then from mediation through trial. This type of billing can work very well for the attorney as the flat fee is usually non-refundable meaning that if the case settles early or for whatever reason the case does not move forward, the lawyer will likely try to refuse any sort of refund.
Non-refundable retainer: This is the most popular fee type in Florida family and divorce law. Here the client pays an amount of money, usually between $2,500 to $5,500, which is not refundable. The attorney keeps track of his time devoted to the case and if the amount of work exceeds the retainer amount then an additional non-refundable retainer will be required.
The main problems with this fee structure are that even though the client makes payments less frequently, those payments are much larger and often need to be paid with very little warning to the client. Many lawyers are great in court, but, are terrible at getting client bills out to clients each and every month which often causes a client to believe that they have plenty of funds remaining on their accounts only to be blindsided with a bill showing that their funds have been exhausted and another large non-refundable is needed right away. The final issue with this fee structure the fact that these fees are usually non-refundable and if the case settles early or the client fires the lawyer for not doing a good job they will have a very hard time getting any of their money back from the law firm.
Positive Trust Balance: (this is the fee structure that my firm uses) This is a fee structure that asks clients to make a smaller refundable deposit into the firm’s trust/ escrow account where the funds still belong to the client until they are earned by the law firm a bit at a time. This ensures that the lawyer only keeps funds that they have actually done work to earn. The average deposit amount that clients are asked to maintain as a refundable deposit by our firm is $1,500.00, however, this amount goes up if the case is more complex or contested.
Is any Attorney Billing Practice Better Than The Others?
In the end, the thing to remember is that the law firm is a business and will make sure they are paid for the work they do. No one billing setup is better than the others since either way the client will have to come up with some funds.
It is no secret that some family law and divorce attorneys are more expensive than others. This can be for several different reasons; high overhead, board certification, extensive experience, etc. Normally there will be a range in price for family attorneys from very low to very high. Usually, the best choice is the firm that is right in the middle. That being said most people can expect to pay between $2500 and $5500 for most cases from start through the end of mediation. Of course, this is heavily dependent on the particular facts of the case. If the case does not settle at mediation then be ready to pay an additional retainer for trial prep. If your attorney is willing to offer you a refundable fee arrangement that will guarantee a refund of any funds that are not used in your case then that is even better.
Remember, no two family cases are the same and there is no way to say what your case will cost until you sit down with a family law attorney and discuss your case in detail.
The Florida Bar has additional information concerning lawyer billing available online for additional information.
If you have a family law or divorce issue then contact Sean Smallwood, P.A.