How much will it cost and how long will it take are two of the most common questions that I am asked the first time I meet with a prospective divorce client. The answer is always it depends upon how willing you and your spouse are to work this out without going to court and how fair you will treat each other.
A client who tells me that they have most of the issues resolved but needs clarification on a few points and suggestions how to divide assets fairly or how to set up a
parenting schedule is without a doubt going to have a less expensive and faster resolution than a parent who tells me that the police were at the house, the bills are unpaid, the children will not talk to the other parent and the spouse has been hiding money.
At the initial consultation it is important to clearly tell the client the amount of the retainer (fee paid in advance and used as a credit for work to be performed) and the hourly rate for the attorneys that will work on the case. It is important to let the client know whether the retainer may be enough to handle the whole case if things go smoothly or whether this may just be the beginning of a difficult divorce.
Many clients when confronted with the potential cost of litigation become more cost conscious and desirous of settling their case. This is a good thing. I want clients who want to settle and resolve their divorce because the outcome is guaranteed. They know exactly what the result will be and are no longer placing their lives in the hands of a judge who may only know them for a few hours.
To help clients know what the cost of their case is my office provides a billing statement every 30 days that identifies, what work was done, who did the work, the hourly rate, the charges and the credit or balance remaining. My office has found that clients that try to stay current with their monthly bills have less stress than those that allow them to accumulate to an amount that then appears to be a rock too big to move. While every client wants the other side to pay their legal fees, there are many factors that go into determining that issue.
Do your best to follow your attorney's advice and really try to resolve issues to reduce stress and finish your divorce faster.