The fee varies with the services you require, but it is based on the retainer and the hourly rate set out in the contract you sign, and it is charged in fifteen minute units. The reason I charge in fifteen minute units is that to stop doing one thing, attend to your problem, make a record of time, and then get back to where I was usually takes at least fifteen minutes. The charge is twice as much at home because I enjoy my quiet time at home, and I do not have your files, my law books, clerks, paralegals, associates and other necessities to help me deal with your problem.
A basic divorce includes the initial conference; the preparation and filing of the petition or the review of the petition filed by the other spouse; the preparation of the answer; the obtaining of information from you concerning your grounds for divorce, assets, liabilities, income, and expenses; the preparation of the marital dissolution agreement; the preparation or the review of a final decree of divorce; and the attendance of one court hearing to have the case disposed of as an uncontested divorce and to submit the appropriate mailings.
Additional time is spent for telephone conferences, negotiations, telephone calls, and other court appearances. If tax planning is needed, a tax lawyer and/or CPA must be associated, as I do not practice or advise clients in that area.
If there is a trial, one party can be ordered to pay some of the other party’s attorney fees. The court will rarely order a party to pay the full amount of the attorney fees. You are responsible for paying the agreed fees, and I will give you full credit for any payments made by your spouse. You have probably heard of divorces in which the attorney representing the wife promises to collect the attorney fees from the husband. This creates a conflict of interest between the attorney and the client, and the attorney might be tempted to compromise the wife’s rights in more important areas to protect the fee. We will negotiate and argue about your attorney fees; however, our focus will be on the total picture. Any discussion about the total cost of a divorce is only an estimate. Because we do not have control over many things such as what your spouse’s attorney may or may not do, we cannot tell you how much time your case will require.
I require a retainer to accept your case and to begin drawing up the necessary papers. If you decide not to retain me, you will only be charged for the office conference. If you retain me, you will sign a contract setting out the terms of representation in writing.