Of course, the first question on everyone's mind when served with divorce or custody papers (or when starting an action), is "how much is this gonna cost me." Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible for any lawyer to give you a definite answer, especially in the area of divorce and custody. The reason being is that there are just too many unknown variables. One thing for sure, however, is the quicker you and your spouse or partner can reach an agreement, then the less money it should cost you. So what goes into a typical fee?
The Undeniable: Hourly Rate, Billable Hour, and Experience
The hourly rate. This is how much the lawyer charges for an hour. this can range anywhere from $150-$425 an hour, or more, depending on your location. The rate is broken down into its billable parts. Ask how your lawyer bills. Will you be billed by the tenth of the hour, or by the quarter of an hour, for example. This could mean a big difference in your final cost. For example, you speak to your lawyer for 3 minutes. Are you billed for 6 under the tenth of the hour scenario, or are you billed for 15, under the quarter of hour scenario- or something different?
The Billable Time. Ask how the hour is billed. Ask what you are billed for. Are you billed when you call the office and speak to a paralegal? Are you billed when you send a text, or an email? And how much for each? Is there a minimum? Are you billed for court wait time or filing papers? Is there a minimum for court appearances? You get the idea.
Experience. Always consider the lawyers experience with the type of matter you are presenting. Ask specifically, if they appear in the court or before the judge that will hear your case. How often do they appear there? If you know who the other players are, i.e. the attorney for the child, or the other lawyer, then ask your potential lawyer if they know the other players. Ask about the nature of the relationship? Don't be put off if it is good. Remember, you want your lawyer to be successful in negotiating an agreement on your behalf. So, positive relationships with the other players, is always beneficial.