Three Ways to Set up Divorce Attorney Fees
Do Most People Hate the Billable Hour When Paying Their Attorney Fees? Is there another way
Yes . Most people I have represented over the years absolutely despise the way divorce attorneys get paid.
Every hour, every minute of work is billed out at an hourly rate. You never really know how many hours the case will take, and one reason for that is that you probably have never worked in a law office.
If you did, you would see the ever pressing issues of documentation and details of working a case.
Since an average divorce case takes about 12 months to finish in Central Ohio, it is imperative that the attorney keep very close records of just about everything. Being able to recreate what did and did not happen is imperative.
So, it is not just about being a stickler to details. It's about being able to re-tell the entire story of your case.
Thus, when your attorney finishes the conversation with you about your case, then he must go back and document what happened. Organize the file. Strategize the next steps that need to be taken.
This all takes time. And time is money to the attorney.
So, is there any other way to pay my divorce attorney besides the billable hour?
Yes. Three alternative ways I have been offering clients is the flat fee, monthly fee or three payment agreements.
Flat fees cover the entire case. Monthly fees are just that--monthly. The three payment program coincides with the 3 different parts of every case-beginning, middle and end.
Based on my over 20 years of experience, I divide the total cost of the case into three parts and ask that the client pay 1/3 of the fee over each time period. This way the client knows what the fee will be and when it is due. Now, I will say one very important thing.
The alternative billing programs are NOT cheaper programs. Just programs that provide for certainty as to what the cost will be.
And, alternative billing programs also do not cover extra costs that you may need in your case. Depositions, guardian ad-litems, investigators are all additional costs that you need to consider.
These are called the “expenses” of a case and are not part of any of the attorney fee programs.
When should you be most worried about having money available for your attorney fees?
The beginning or part one of the case when the emotions are running high and you have so much to tell your attorney and you want so much to be done with your case? No.
The middle of the case or part 2 when the attorney says we have to do “Discovery”?
The end of your case or part 3?
Yes. Because that is when you are either going to settle the case or your are going to trial.
The last thing the attorney wants to be worried about is getting paid to complete the divorce. Hours and hours go into preparation for trial.
And, when you prepare for trial, you are at the same time preparing for settlement. This is when you and your attorney need to be at their very best.
This is when my goal is to help/push people over the goal line to a better place. So when you think about attorney fees, think with the end in mind.