Attorney Fees For Divorce and Paternity Cases
By Orlando Family Law Attorney Eduardo J. Mejias
At some point of every consultation with a prospective family law client hear the question: “So, how much will this cost?” Naturally, potential clients want to know whether a major investment like hiring a family law attorney makes financial sense to them. And, for understandable reasons, most individuals have only a vague notion of what a divorce or paternity retainer should cost. These reasons are these:
First, almost all non-personal injury law firm advertising omits any reference to pricing. Thus, family law consumers lack reference points when they call attorneys for the first time.
Second, family law cases defy neat categorization. Each divorce and paternity case has its own quirks and nuances that affect its cost. This lack of standardization makes menu-like pricing virtually impossible.
Finally, why would people familiarize themselves with what a divorce costs until the moment they’re confronted with one? Divorce and family law litigation are unpleasant and stressful. So the average person doesn’t think or want to think about its cost until he or she has to. Unlike a new sports car, a European vacation, or a luxurious house, nobody wistfully dreams about hiring a family law attorney.
The question then becomes this: What is a fair retainer fee for a divorce or paternity case? Notwithstanding the difficulty of categorizing family law cases, paternity cases should generally cost less than divorce cases. Unlike divorces, paternity cases do not involve dividing assets or liabilities, nor is alimony a consideration. Conversely, divorces with children require the same time-sharing and child support analysis as paternity cases. Even divorces without children can be quite complex when major assets and alimony are in the picture.
Other factors will come into play as well. For example, where is the case being litigated? A family law attorneys like myself, who charge flat fees as opposed to hourly retainers, must take into account the projected travel time involved in a case. Therefore, AAA Family Law, located in Altamonte Springs, charges less for Orange, Seminole and Volusia cases than for cases in more distant counties. Another less obvious consideration is the stage at which your family law case is in. While I don’t advise starting a divorce or paternity case alone, if a client hires my firm after the initial pleadings are done, I usually charge that person less than those individuals who are “starting from scratch” with me.
With all of that being said, I believe that, as of 2016, locally-based paternity case retainer fees should range between $1,750 to $2,500, while locally-based divorces should require initial retainers of between $2,000 to $3,000. If you hear a quote for a local paternity or divorce case that exceeds these ranges, you should question the value of that attorney’s services.
Of course, even the above-quoted prices represent large sums of money for the average family law client. I have yet to meet the person who has diligently saved money for a future divorce. For this reason, AAA Family Law offers reasonable payment plans for divorce and paternity cases, as well as other types of family law matters.
If you’re looking for a reasonably-priced experienced attorney to represent you in a divorce or a paternity action, call AAA Family Law at (407) 260-6001 and schedule an initial consultation. At the consultation you will get an opportunity to explain your family law situation and state your objectives. I will present you with a plan of legal action to accomplish those objectives. Then, I will quote you my flat retainer fee, not an hourly rate whose total you cannot predict, before you sign a contract or make any payments.
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