While you’re already being dragged through a confusing and emotional process, the last thing you want is to be hit with surprise bills. This can drive a huge wedge between you and the ONE person you are supposed to be able to trust to help guide you: your divorce attorney.
It is a huge red flag if at the outset of hiring a lawyer you don’t get absolute clarity about how fees and costs can be assessed. You should know how things get charged, how and when to pay for services, what things are considered “extra” charges, and whether you will be billed for a quick 5 minute phone call or email. We often get asked the question, “How much will my divorce cost?” If nothing is being contested, we are able to give a very narrow range estimate based on your situation.
If there are contested issues, you should question any divorce attorney who tries to give you an EXACT quote.
The answer in contested matters is always that it depends on how much the other party wants to spend. Unfortunately, we have seen many cases where our client wanted to be reasonable but the other party simply wanted to out-spend them. Also, this can be influenced by who the opposing counsel is and whether they have a tendency to make mountains out of mole-hills (we know quite of few of these attorneys). Irregardless of how difficult it might be to give an exact quote, no divorce attorney should shy away from your questions about their fees. If they don’t have logical common sense answers to their fee process at the beginning, you should be concerned that they don’t have a process and that it might just get invented along-the-way.
Super Low Fees (Proceed With Caution!):
Having the combined experience of many decades in the industry, we hear many stories about other divorce attorney charging bargain basement prices. Sometimes you’ll hear a flat fee so low, it’s almost too good to be true. There are two things to consider if you are suspicious the lawyer is quoting a surprisingly low fee. First, one client paying a low fee is a good indicator that this lawyer has lots of clients paying low fees. Usually this means they need to have LOTS and LOTS of clients, sometimes they have more clients than they can serve with first-class attention. Down the road, this turns into missed phone calls, unreturned messages, emails that never get a response, or worse, missed court deadlines or altogether forgetting who you are any anything about your case when it comes time to go to court.
The second thing to consider with ultra-low fee quotes that we see is that the divorce attorney doesn’t intend for this to be the WHOLE fee; this is just the FIRST fee. Without a very detailed review of their retainer agreement, you may be surprised to find out that this was just the first retainer. As the case goes along, the lawyer may ask for more and more and more money as they bill their time and deplete your funds. These lawyers understand that it is difficult to change attorneys mid-stream and so they use the low-up-front-with-more-on-the-back-end strategy as the hook to get you into their system.
For a transparent discussion about fees, contact our office for an appointment. We offer services for clients throughout Arizona, including Chandler, Gilbert, Sun Lakes, Tempe, Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, and Apache Junction.