Every potential client wants to know how much their divorce process will cost in and what the attorney will charge. All aspects of how the attorney fees arrangement will work should be thoroughly discussed and specifically stated in your written contract. Review the contract carefully and ask your attorney any questions you have so you will have no surprises later.
The Hourly Rate
In California, family law attorneys typically charge an hourly rate. The hourly rate is determined by the Attorney and hourly rates can differ so be sure you are clear about how much your attorney will charge per hour. The hourly rate is commonly charged in one-tenth of an hour segments, or six-minute increments.
What is a Retainer?
Most family law attorneys in California will ask for a retainer, which is actually an advance of fees. The law requires the attorney to put the retainer in a trust account. The attorney keeps an accounting of the hours worked for the client and what specific work was done during those hours.
At the end of the month, the attorney send the bill for the work performed and then transfers that amount of money from the trust account to the attorney’s business account. If the trust account runs low, the attorney likely will ask for a retainer replenishment. Most family law attorneys will return to you any funds that are left in the retainer trust account at the end of the case. Be sure this term is included in your contract.
Contingency for Collecting Spousal or Child Support
California law allows family law attorneys to work on a contingency basis if they are hired for the sole purpose of collecting outstanding spousal or child support. This means attorneys are paid a percentage of what is collected. The percentage may increase if the case has to go to trial.
In addition to the percentage, you will also have to reimburse the attorney for any costs, such as costs of court filings, expert witness fees if an expert is required, and so forth. You will still owe these cost reimbursements even if the collection is unsuccessful.
The initial consultation is generally about 60 to 90 minutes long and includes the attorney learning about you and your case. The attorney will provide legal advice specific to your case and explain what you might expect. Most family law attorneys charge for an initial consultation.
If you want to learn about mediation, and only need the process explained to you, that can often be done in a complimentary consultation since you will not be receiving legal advice but only information about how the process works.
For assistance with any aspect of your divorce, contact the team at Chase, Berenstein and Murray, Counselors at Law. You may also call (650) 642-3897 to schedule a consultation.