Hiring a Divorce Lawyer
In theory, divorce is simple. You and your spouse need only to resolve child support, child custody, spousal support, and dividing debt and property. If you can work these issues out with your spouse, you can file an “uncontested divorce”, and the divorce can be settled economically and quickly. However, if the two of you are unable to settle your issues, you most likely will need the help of a divorce attorney or family law lawyer in filing a “contested divorce”.
Divorce lawyers have two main ways to charge for their services; hourly or fixed fee. Under the hourly billing method an attorney charges you for every minute of work on your case. At the end of the month you are presented a bill. This bill could be 1 hours or it could be 20 hours. With a fixed fee method the attorney lists the services to be completed and cost. You pay this cost and there are no extra charges until new work needs to be completed. Both hourly and fixed fee attorneys usually require a deposit (or retainer) before starting work.
Our divorce lawyers prefer the fixed fee for “uncontested” divorces, “contested” divorces, and “contested” custody cases. We only practice in these areas of law and feel we have a good sense for estimating a fair fee. By providing you a fixed fee, we remove the uncertainty of “how much will this cost” from your mind. With a fixed fee, you don’t need to worry how much you are paying every time you talk with your attorney.
Costs of Uncontested Divorce
The costs for an uncontested divorce will range between $1,800 and $2,200 for most cases. This fee includes the required court filing fees. The final cost depends on how uncontested your case really is. Some couples have everything figured out and can complete our Joint Petition Worksheet. Other couples need a couple of meetings with the attorney to mediate some of the remaining issues.
Costs of Contested Divorce
No law firm no exactly what your contested divorce will cost. Why not? Because we don’t know what your spouse or their attorney are going to do. They may agree with reasonable claims, and they have unreasonable claims. We have handled $20,000 divorce cases because both spouses wanted a judge to award them attorney fees because the other spouse cheated. This is an unreasonable position.
These unreasonable cases happen, but are rare. The average contested divorce costs $6,000 to $8,000. The upfront retainer is typically between $3,000 to $4,000.
Do you always need to hire an attorney? No, you don’t “need” to hire an attorney. They is no law requiring you to have an attorney to handle your case. Here are some tips when you should hire a divorce lawyer or family law attorney.
When to Hire a Divorce Lawyer
- If the stress is too much. If you roll-up in a fetal position every time you see a legal document you may want to hire someone. The only reason not to hire a lawyer is the money. What’s more important money or your health?
- If you are seeking protective orders (or TPO) against a spouse. Cases involving protective orders are too difficult, and possibly dangerous, to handle on your own.
- If speaking in court in front of a judge scares you. There is a high probability you will need to present your case in open court in front of the judge.
- If you and your spouse have a considerable amount of debt. Debt can be a sticky legal situation.
- If you own real estate or a business. Business evaluations absolutely need expert legal assistance.
- If one of the contested issues is alimony or spousal support. Spousal support formulas are complex. Do yourself a favor and hire an attorney who understand the judges thoughts on spousal support.
- If your spouse has left the state with the children. Custody cases with relocation issues are too complicated to handle without a custody attorney.
Keys To Hiring an Attorney
- Hire a lawyer with at least three or more years of divorce experience. Their experience should be specific in divorce, of family law. Don’t use a business attorney to represent you in family court and vice versa. Two completely different types of law, and in Las Vegas two different courts.
- Look for online reviews which speak about the attorney and staff. You will be dealing with the staff as much as the attorney.
- Look for an attorney that supports you and believes in your viewpoints or interests. Not all attorneys will agree with your position on an issue. Your position may not be right, but no sense fighting your attorney and your spouse.
- Speak with a law firm that provides you an initial consultation with an attorney. Some firms have you meet with a paralegal first. Working with a paralegal after you meet the attorney is acceptable.
- If your case is likely to go to trial then look for an attorney with at least a dozen divorce trials under his belt. Just because they have a attorney license doesn’t mean they know how to handle a trial.