One question that weighs heavily on most people’s minds during the divorce process is, “how much is this going to cost me?” Unfortunately, that question does not have an easy answer. Divorces can be unpredictable, and their cost depends upon a variety of elements. But, just because a bottom-line figure can be difficult to reach, does not mean that you need to stay completely in the dark on costs. There are many common factors that affect divorce costs, and keeping them in mind can help you stay in control of your legal bills.
Legal fees often form the core of a divorce’s cost, but they can vary quite widely from lawyer to lawyer. The first issue to understand is the structure of attorney’s fees. Often attorneys break their fees down into two sections, the retainer and the hourly fee. The retainer is an up-front fee that some attorneys charge. They can vary widely depending on the attorney’s discretion and area, and range from around $2,000 to $10,000 or higher. Additionally, some attorneys make their retainers refundable under certain circumstances, while others choose not to.
Divorce attorneys can also charge by the hour. Some choose to do this instead of charging a retainer, while many charge a combination of a retainer and an hourly fee. These fees are often on the order of a few hundred dollars per hour, but may range higher or lower. The lawyer’s style can also have a large impact on how expensive hourly fees end up being to the client. A divorce lawyer who seeks out speedy settlements and compromise will probably expend fewer hours than an aggressive lawyer who consistently brings matter to trial, and few hours equates to fewer hourly fees.
Ultimately, the attorney does not control the costs, however. Much depends on the contentiousness of the split. If there is dispute on every issue, like division of assets, custody, and child support, then more legal work will be necessary and the fees will increase.
In addition to legal fees, some divorce lawyers charge for a variety of other costs, such as the mileage they expend driving around, or the cost of office supplies and equipment they use in their work for you. Asking exactly what the lawyer charges for can help you get a handle on the bill. Furthermore, some divorces also require expert testimony. Often courts use this testimony to determine the value of unique or unusual items like homes, businesses, or antiques. Such experts do not work for free, and their testimony can make divorces more expensive. The courts themselves may also charge fees and costs, which can vary from location to location.
If you would like to file for divorce or are just curious about your options, contact a DuPage county divorce attorney today. Their experience can help guide you through the divorce process.