What will the total cost of my legal case? What is the Average cost of a legal action? How much for a Divorce? How much does it cost for a Bankruptcy?
The truth is, there is no such thing as an average legal action -- just as there's no such thing as an average divorce or an average bankruptcy. The final cost will depend completely on how much time staff and attorneys have invested in the case. In the case of a divorce - if both parties are reasonable, willing to negotiate and deal with each other in good faith, a divorce settlement which represents the best interests of both parties can be reached fairly quickly. If one or both parties insists on fighting and being unreasonable, invariably, costs will quickly mount.
Uncontested Divorces in which both parties have generally agreed to terms and which have no custody issues, can be completed for as little as $550 plus court costs and other associated fees (see below). However, how close it remains to $550 is pretty much your responsibility.
Clients can increase the cost of a simple, uncontested divorce by simply calling the attorney and inquiring into its status. Remember that you're paying for the attorney's time and telephone calls are billed at the attorney's standard hourly rate (billed at the standard rates listed below - with the minimum billing being fifteen minutes regardless of the minimum time on the phone)! Keep telephone calls and visits to a minimum and the legal costs will reflect the effort.
Costly Victory. Be aware of possessions and don't increase the legal cost of your divorce by insisting on winning every battle. Simply venting accumulated anger and pain which you might be experiencing will surely increase the overall cost of the divorce. Such fighting will only make an uncontested action impossible and your case will undoubtedly end up in court increasing costs considerably. Sometimes winning is really losing!
We encourage each client to work out as many issues with his or her spouse as is reasonably possible. We know that the divorce process is laden with emotion and it is natural to experience anger and be upset -- but inevitably, the more time you spend fighting, the more expensive the divorce will be. And at this critical time in you life, you have better things to spend your money on than attorney's fees. Having said that, it is important for you to understand that , as shown by our results and reputation, that we will not shy away from the most vigorous and spirited representation of your interests as necessary.
Bankruptcy actions can reasonably be expected to remain within the retainer fee indicated below. But again, keeping phone calls and visits down to an essential minimum will ensure that the final cost will remain at the stated fee.
Other general legal issues are based upon the expected time and effort expected for the actions and will be billed based upon our Legal Fee Structure as indicated here.
Our Fee Structure:
First Appointment / Consultation (one half hour) FREE
Attorney - $150 per hour (minimum chargeable, fifteen minutes).
Support / Clerical Services - $25 to $50 per hour for various tasks such as legal filings, preparation of form documents, etc.
Office expenses, such as copies, faxes - etc., are billed to the client based upon cost.
Court, Constable, Service and Publication fees are passed on to the client based upon cost.
With each case, a retainer is required. A retainer is the 'up front' amount you pay so we can begin work on your case. It is an amount of money that 'retains' our services. The following are the retainer fees required for various type of cases:
Simple Uncontested Divorce (custody not an issue) $550 attorney's fees and filing fee of $83.
Contested Divorce Case (custody not an issue) $850 attorney's fees and filing fee of $83.
Divorce with Custody Issue - $1,300 plus filing fee of $83.
Paternity Case - $400 plus filing fee of $58.
Modification of Existing Child Support Order - $400 - $600 plus filing fee of $15.
Modification of Alimoney Case - $600 plus filing fee of $15.
Adoption - $600 plus filing fee of $25.
Bankruptcies - Chapter 13, $194; Chapter 7, $450 plus a filing fee of $194*.
* Amounts represent minimum bankruptcy retainers. Balance of Chapter 13 is taken from the bankruptcy plan.
Real Estate Document Review and Closing (in office - $165, Out of Office - $185 plus mileage).
Real Estate Trustee - $45 each plus any associated filing fees.
Wills - $450 each.
Work completed by our staff is charged against the client's retainer. So, for example, a $500 retainer will pay for the first three and half hours of work by an attorney at $150 per hour. In most cases, the retainer fee is not the entire fee you should expect to pay. You will receive a billing from our office each month. Until the retainer is used up, the bill will reflect your credit balance. After the retainer is used, you are to pay the balance of your account current each month. The balance of retainer will be returned to the client at the end of the legal matter.
In matters matters, other than Chapter 7 bankruptcies, a payment plan may be entered into between the client and the firm with a minimum down payment and with the preapproval of the firm. Court fees and other out-of-the office expenses must be paid by the client as they occur.