This post is the second of a five part series on questions you should ask your divorce attorney before you sign on the dotted line. Check out Part I here and look forward to Parts III through V over the coming days.
QUESTION 2: HOW MUCH IS THIS GOING TO COST?
Question 2 can be a bit misleading, because the big cost question is a loaded one! Because most divorce lawyers charge their clients hourly, it can be very difficult to say exactly how much a divorce will cost. As such, it can be very difficult (nearly impossible) for a divorce lawyer to give you a good estimate on the overall cost of your case. There are a few things, however, your divorce attorney should be able to tell you about the costs:
(a) the attorneys’ hourly rate ($150-$250 is average for Kalispell divorce lawyers);
(b) the advanced-deposit or retainer that will be necessary (anywhere from $1,500 – $5,000+ for Kalispell divorce lawyers);
(c) if they have paralegals or staff that do work for them, what the paralegal/staff’s hourly rate is; and
(d) will I have filing fees or any costs other than your hourly fees?
Ideally, the answers to all of these questions will be able to be found in the divorce attorney’s Representation/Fee Agreement. If you decide not to hire the attorney, you may never even get to see the Fee Agreement – all the more reason to ask the questions first!
If you are unsatisfied with any of the answers, ask follow up questions and find out why the office works the way it does. Is the hourly rate for the attorney higher because they have more experience? If so, you may feel a lot better about shelling out an extra $50.00 per hour. Is your case complex? It may explain an increase in the advance deposit or retainer fee required. As always, shop around for an attorney until you feel comfortable with one.