In the legal industry, attorneys are paid in a number of different ways. Some lawyers require retainers, and other attorneys take their payment off settlements. Hourly wages, commission or a combination of the two. But how do family attorneys get paid?
Some family law attorneys do require a retainer. This retainer helps pay for several divorce services including, but not limited to service fees, filing fees, expert witness fees, transcript fees, records, court reporters and additional court related charges. When the retainer fund nears empty, an attorney might ask their legal client to deposit more funds to help finance the necessary.
Unlike personal injury or civil attorneys that take a percentage of the settlement decided by the court, family lawyers do not receive compensation based on whether you win or lose.
Drawbacks of Hourly Rates
There are a few drawbacks of paying for a family lawyer by the hour. Family attorneys can vary greatly with regards to their hourly rate. Generally speaking a Sacramento family law lawyer will cost less than a New York City, Chicago, San Francisco or Los Angeles family lawyer. There are several variables that contribute to the hourly rate of a lawyer including average income of the locality and experience. Since family lawyers can cost $250 or more per hour, these legal services can quickly add up to fees equivalent to tens of thousands of dollars.
Some family lawyers tend to avoid hourly rates as it is a bit of unknown as to how much labor is required for a unique case. This helps keep their clients in the light regarding their finances.
How Much Does a Family Law Attorney Cost?
Generally speaking a family law attorney will charge an average of $250 per hour. However, this number can range dramatically based on two main variables. Location and experience. The higher the income of an area, the higher the costs of attorneys. The lower income or cost of living in an area, the lower the costs of attorneys. A new inexperienced attorney may charge as little as $50 per hour, while a seasoned veteran of the legal landscape can charge as much as $650 an hour. Attorneys may also set up different pay structures to help finance their services.
What some attorneys may not tell you is that their attorney costs do not cover court expenses including filing fees, expert witnesses and travel and transportation charges. It is advisable to ask your family law attorney exactly how they want to be paid, the cost of a retainer, or their hourly billable rate. By ironing out these important details on the front end, you can be better prepped to assess the actual costs of the family legal services.
If the attorney is evasive, or not willing to outline their costs you might want to look elsewhere. The last thing anyone wants is an invoice at the end of a stressful case that they are unprepared for.
Going through family law cases can be very stressful, so it is very important to ensure that the family law attorney hired fits your needs. Have an open channel of communication with them and ask all of the questions you have on the front end to ensure you're in the right hands.