Are you currently navigating a divorce?
If so, you likely have several financial concerns. This is for good reason: most contested divorces cost anywhere between $300 and $30,000.
If you are working with a divorce lawyer, you may be worried about paying exorbitant fees.
While the right attorney will provide professional services you need, these services are likely to cost a pretty penny.
It is possible to work with an attorney and avoid being overbilled. Here are some tips to effectively manage a divorce lawyer’s fees.
Read on for insight!
1. Do Your Research Before Hire
It’s imperative to research viable divorce attorneys before you commit to one. In this digital age, online reviews give all clients an advantage.
Make sure your divorce attorney has extensive online reviews. Naturally, you’ll want these testimonials to be highly positive.
But also look for recent and detailed reviews, noting anything clients say about fees or payments.
Some divorce lawyers will even have testimonials on their website. If you aren’t able to find any information about client experience, move on to the next prospective lawyer.
The same goes for any reviews that directly cite instances of over-billing.
2. Know How They Bill
Trustworthy and experienced attorneys will be transparent with clients about the way they bill for services. Any lawyers who “guesstimate” or provide vague answers about billing should be avoided.
Ask a prospective divorce attorney how much they will charge per hour. (Most divorce lawyers work at hourly rates initially.) Clarify if these rates change for clerical or administrative work.
This is especially important if the lawyer you’ve chosen doesn’t already have staff members to take care of basic administrative tasks.
Lastly, ask your attorney if he or she bills by tenths of an hour. Do they round up or use specific increments?
Always inspect every bill you receive and ask about any instances that seem hazy, suspect, or inaccurate.
3. Identify Standard Rates
Yes, it is possible to assess standard paralegal and attorney hourly rates prior to hiring an attorney.
Even if you’ve already hired one, you can compare bills with your area’s standard rates.
These rates vary depending on the state and county in which you reside. For example, a divorce lawyer with five to ten years of experience in South Carolina typically charges $175 – $250 an hour.
Identify your area’s standard rates for divorce attorney services. If your bills are clocking in at higher than these rates, you are likely over-paying.
4. Avoid Unnecessary Fighting
Discuss a plan of attack with your divorce lawyer ahead of time. If your lawyer seems to encourage further conflict–i.e., fighting–with your spouse unnecessarily, he or she may be looking for ways to rack up fees.
Most divorce lawyers will help clients navigate contested divorces with as minimal conflict as possible. If your lawyer advises further fighting, make sure he or she has a clear reason why.
Avoiding Excessive Divorce Lawyer’s Fees
It is possible to avoid excessive divorce lawyer’s fees, even in difficult contested divorces. Make sure you thoroughly research viable lawyers ahead of time, noting online reviews.
Familiarize yourself with standard hourly rates for divorce attorney services in your local area. Ask your lawyer ahead of time about how he or she will be billing you for specific tasks.
Looking for other ways to change your approach to personal finance? Check out these tips here!