How much will my case cost?

Divorce and family law estimateIn the previous entry, we talked about how long a family law case may take.  This is one of the most common questions clients going through a family law matter ask.  After this question, one of the other most common questions is the approximate cost of the case.  In other words, clients and potential clients usually want an estimate about the total cost of the case as it relates to attorney’s fees and court costs.

The question makes sense because most individuals want to be able to plan for the future.  With other financial obligations and uncertainty on the horizon, clients and potential clients want to make sure they can remain on a solid financial footing after the conclusion of the case.  They also want to come up with a plan for how to make heir ends meet while the case is pending.

The reality is that most attorneys and law firms bill by the hour for divorce and family law matters.  The reason is based on the unpredictability of these types of cases.  As we talked about in the blog entry about how long a case may take, the reality is an attorney has little ability to forecast the future in an initial meeting with a potential client.

Some cases can settle quickly and easily.  In these cases, the case will not take long.  This results in the attorney and the law firm staff spending less time on the case.  And, for this reason, the case can ultimately be on the lower end of the spectrum.

Other cases, on the other hand, can be contentious.  The parties ultimately cannot settle.  This results in the parties having to undergo a trial.  At the conclusion of the trial, one party might decide to appeal the decision.  Or, if they do not appeal, in relatively short order, a motion to modify, motion for contempt or other subsequent litigation can arise.  In these cases, the cost of a family law case can be exponentially higher.

There are also the middle of the road cases where cooler heads ultimately prevail.  In these cases, the parties cannot settle quickly and easily.  It might require multiple court dates before a settlement can be reached.  It might require discovery taking place like interrogatories, requests for production, subpoenas and depositions.  But, ultimately, the parties settle even if on the courthouse steps.  In these cases, the cost can be somewhere in the middle.

Some additional factors that can come into play are as follows:

  • In some cases, the client might call or e-mail their attorney frequently.  In other cases, the client might not desire or want ultra-frequent communication.  The reality is that based on the needs of the client and the case, this can cause the ultimate cost to vary.
  • In some cases, the client may provide information to the attorney quickly and expeditiously upon request.  In other instances, the attorney may have to follow-up frequently with the client to get what they need in order to prepare the case.  This is another factor that can cause the cost to vary.
  • In some cases, the case might be in a courthouse or on a docket where the case can move expeditiously all things considered.  In other instances, the case might end up on a clogged up docket where cases can take a lot longer.  This is another factor that can make predictions uncertain out of the gates.
  • The attorney on the other side of the case, and the other party, can also make a difference.  If the other attorney and opposing party are easy to work with, this can help minimize fees.  However, if the opposite is true, this can cause the costs to increase.

While potential clients and clients want definitiveness, and the reasons for wanting it makes sense, it is virtually impossible for any attorney to give it honestly on day one.  All of these factors referenced above, among others, can cause the cost of most divorce or family law cases to vary significantly.

If you are going through a divorce or family law matter, Stange Law Firm, PC can help.  You can contact us at 1-855-805-0595.


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