Reasons to Hire a Fixed Fee Divorce Attorney
Divorce attorneys come in two styles: hourly of fixed fee. Hourly attorneys ask for a retainer up front. A retainer is like a deposit. The attorney bills hours each month against the retainer. After the retainer is used the attorney will request a new retainer. Fixed fee attorneys provide you a list of tasks they will complete, and an estimate for completing those tasks. This is all you pay. The amount of hours to complete the tasks is irrelevant.
For someone who is looking for an economical divorce, a fixed fee divorce lawyer may be the way to go. After all, cost is one of the key factors to consider when hiring a divorce lawyer.
Several years ago, Right Lawyers changed from the hourly model to the fixed fee model. Here are some of the reasons we prefer the fixed fee model. We feel fixed fees offers both the client and the attorney advantages over the hourly fees.
You Can Budget for Attorney Fees
With a fixed fee (aka flat fee), you know exactly how much your divorce is going to cost. There will never be that sinking feeling of receiving the attorney bill in your inbox at the end of the month. Fixed fee attorneys don’t send bills because the fee has already been estimated and paid. With a fixed fee you don’t have to make that phone call, asking why you were charged $85 for an email that took two minutes to type and less for the attorney to read. The attorney doesn’t bill for time with a fixed fee.
You and Your Attorney Share the Same Goal
If you pay by the hour, where is the incentive for the attorney get the case signed, sealed and delivered? In fact it’s the opposite with hourly attorneys. If your attorney spends an extra hour reviewing a document, or arguing with the other attorney, you pay them more. When you pay your divorce lawyer a fixed fee, the attorney has a incentive to get a good result, quicker. The attorney makes the same fee whether the hearing takes two hours or four hours. Therefore, they are motivated to get it done as efficiently as possible.
You Can Ask All Those Questions
Most people going through a divorce have a thousand questions. There are a lot of “what if’s” in their case they would like answered or explained. Many of those people will call their attorney or send them an email with these questions. With hourly attorneys you pay for every minute your divorce lawyer spends reading and replying to your questions. With a fixed fee attorney, there is no extra charge for those questions. All emails and calls are included for the same fixed fee.
Your Attorney Isn’t Paid to Learn
With hourly billing, you are paying for your attorney to learn the law. You are charged hourly for any new law the attorney decides to research or review. If the attorney decides to take an extra hour to review an area of law they have never seen, you are paying for the attorney to learn. This is the main reason most people hire experienced lawyers. You hope they have already read and learned everything. But, there are always new laws, and new cases to read. Even experienced attorneys learn new things. With a fixed fee, you are fine with the attorney reading all the new cases, and all the new laws. This learning doesn’t change your fee.
No Billing Disputes
Attorneys go to great lengths to avoid surprises, but they can still happen. For hourly attorneys, those surprises appear on the monthly bill. These surprises are either accepted and paid or you dispute the bill. Fighting with your attorney over an invoice while you are fighting your spouse in divorce court is not a fun position to be in. With fixed fees there are not disputes. You were given an estimate before the work was even started. The estimate is all you pay.
Encourages Your Attorney to Plan Ahead
Fixed fee attorneys need to stay organized. They need a plan for how to quickly and efficiently accomplish your divorce goals. Fixed fee attorneys find that if they plan out each step in detail then execute their plan, things move along quickly. You can get through this and start the next chapter in your life.There is no financial incentive for an hourly attorney to plan ahead.
When You May Not Want a Fixed Fee Attorney (or Any Attorney)
There are a few circumstances where you may be better off with an hourly attorney, or any attorney at all. Filing an uncontested divorce (aka joint petition), a divorce with few assets, no children, or no request for alimony might be better with an hourly attorney or no attorney. If the case is only going to take a few hours, or a quick review of the documents then an hourly model is better suited.