Family Law covers a wide range of subjects including Marriage and Divorce, Child Custody and Parenting Issues, Child Support, Paternity, and Adoption. In a broader sense, it also includes issues of Children’s Rights and Juvenile Justice.
A “fee for services” or “retainer” is typical in this area, where a bulk amount is initially requested from the client and held in escrow. As the attorney spends time and expenses working on the case, they are paid out of the retainer fund. Fees are typically billed at an hourly rate, in 15 minute increments. The retainer required for divorce is likely to be $2,500-$5,000, possibly more or less, depending on the complexity of your matter and the attorney.
If the retainer fund is used up at some point, the attorney may ask you to replenish it. It is important when discussing fees to know whether the likely total case cost will be larger than the original retainer. If this happens, the attorney may ask you for another lump retainer sum or they may allow you to go to a payment plan for the remaining fees and expenses.
Any contact with the attorney will likely cost you (usually in 15 minute increments). Even short phone calls or conversations not really related to your case may be billed. Before calling your attorney, prepare a list of questions you need answered or information you need to relate to keep the conversation brief, focused, and productive (and potentially less expensive for you in the long run).
Attorneys charge for expenses incurred on behalf of clients. These expenses typically include copying charges, long-distance phone charges, postage, faxes, court filing fees, the cost of court reporters, expert witnesses, and other expenses associated with handling your case.
It is advisable to ask your attorney to put the fee arrangement in writing. This will help you and your attorney clarify what you will be charged for, when you are expected to pay your invoices, and what you should do if you have a concern about fees.