ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS

The fees and costs for dissolution of marriage cases widely vary. If your case is limited the attorney may charge you a fixed fee. The more complex and/or the more contested the issues, the more the dissolution will cost. At an initial consultation your attorney will advise you of the hourly fee the lawyer will charge you for all time spent working on your case. Costs are besides fees. Your lawyer will expect you to pay fees and the costs of litigation under the agreement you make. Sometimes the court will order your spouse to pay part or all of your fee and costs, but such awards are unpredictable and cannot be relied upon. You are primarily responsible for the payment of your legal fees and costs.

Since legal fees are partly determined by services rendered, it is not usually possible to determine in advance the total fee for a case that may have contested issues. In such instances, lawyers may advise the client of his minimum fee— as the least it would cost— and, of the hourly charges for time that might be expended beyond the minimum time in the lawyer's original estimate.

Attorneys can represent you limitedly also. In these instances your attorney will only work on a part of your case, such as attending a hearing or attending mediation. You would then represent yourself in all other case matters.

Attorneys can prepare paperwork for your use in the divorce. In these instances your attorney will probably ask for a flat or fixed fee.

Whatever fee arrangements you make with your attorney, you will be asked to sign an agreement detailing exactly the hourly fees, flat fees, and costs for the services you request. Again costs are additional.

In a divorce, it is illegal for an attorney to work on a contingency fee basis; that is, where the lawyer’s fee is based upon a percentage of the amount awarded to the client. It is only permissible to work on a contingency if you are seeking the payment of unpaid child support or unpaid alimony, but most attorneys charge hourly for this engagement of services.