Family law covers legal matters related to family relationships. The area of expertise for such law usually involves representation for cases like divorce, adoptions, paternity, marital property, alimony, child custody, and support. The cost of family lawyer usually depends on the complexity of the case.
How much does a family law attorney cost? Since it is a specialized field, legal fee varies from one professional to another. Hence, it is important in hiring a lawyer based on his/her background and expertise instead of the price. The trust between the lawyer and the client is also essential to overcome such stressful proceedings.
Average Cost of Family Lawyer
The average rate of a family lawyer is around $50 to $1,100 per hour. The average legal fee depends on many factors. Based on the data gathered by ALM Legal Intelligence, lawyers that are partners charge about $230 to $1055 per hour for their services. Meanwhile, lawyers that are associates cost around $135 to $670 per hour.
According to Matthew Izzi of Legal Match, flat rates for child custody is around $3,000-$6,000. But for complicated child custody disputes, it can reach about $15,000 to $40,000 to finish the case using an hourly fee structure for the overall legal fee.
What are Included
Complicated cases can yield additional cost for verifications. In certain family disputes like domestic violence for divorce cases, medical verification is required by the court to strengthen the claim. In child custody and support, specialists like psychologists are a mandatory evaluation to determine the capabilities of the parent and the mental condition of the child.
Other fees like enforcement, depositions and documentation are shouldered by the client during the proceedings. Paralegal documentation is either included in the hourly rate of the lawyer or separate cost for an assistant. Meanwhile, deposition conducted by a court reporter costs around $1,300 to $2,500. The production of the documents should be discussed by the attorney for budget consideration.
Different Modes of Payment
- Hourly Rate – the most basic mode of payment.
- Flat Fee – fixed fee contract is used in simple cases. In such payment, it is important to determine the full coverage of the fixed fee. The filing and other documentation fees are typically excluded in the legal fee.
- Contingent Fee – refers to a mode of payment in which the lawyer will take at least 33% of the monetary settlements for winning the A contingency fee is only applicable in certain cases.
- Retainer Fee – refers to a lump sum amount to cover the hourly rate of the lawyer. It is described as a down payment and deducted as the cost of the legal counsel accrue. But the computation of the overall cost is quite complicated and depends on the coverage offered by the lawyer. It is important to clarify with the lawyer everything regarding the retainer fee to avoid confusion.
Finding a Family Lawyer
There are various legal firms available throughout the country. It is important to hire an attorney within the state you reside since some state law varies from each other. The coverage of the fee should be clear to avoid any complication.
There are also online platforms that provide legal services. But how much does a family law attorney cost online? Well, an online platform like Rocket Lawyer charges $40 to $50 per month as a form of membership. Members can avail online services like the creation of legal documents, contract signing with digital signatures, and online consultation to lawyers for every new case.
Factors Affecting the Family Court Lawyer Cost
The expertise of the lawyer can greatly increase the overall legal fee. The more experienced the lawyers are in certain cases, the more they will charge for their legal services. Years of experience and number of previous cases handled are a good measurement of how much specialized an attorney in the field.
Smaller cities and provinces usually have a cheaper legal fee for attorneys. The usual cost of a lawyer in small towns is around $100 to $200 per hour. Meanwhile, densely populated cities can yield higher legal fees due to competitions, cost of rentals and utility fees. Lawyers in large cities charge about $200 to $400 per hour. According to the Virtual Paralegal Services (VPS), New York has the highest-paid attorneys in the country.
- Complexity of the Case
Complicated cases usually take longer to resolve especially for an hourly fee structure. In some instances, other professionals like in the medical field are involved in the case which further increases the difficulty of handling and overall cost of the case. Verifications are sometimes required as supporting documents to strengthen the cause of the case.
- Type of Firm
Legal firms are categorized into solo practitioner, associates, and partners. A solo practitioner can be cheaper in comparison to associate lawyers. Meanwhile, lawyers that are partners charge steep hourly rates for their services.
- Firm Size
The size of the firm can also affect the hourly rate of lawyers. The lawyers that are partners under a firm with more than 1000 employees charge $727 per hour on average. Meanwhile, partner lawyers have less than 100 employees charge around $343 per hour.
The budget should be well discussed between the clients and lawyers. It is to focus the budget on things that matter and essential to the case. Ask the lawyer regarding the process and duration of the case. It also serves as a preparation for the mental and emotional burden during the proceedings.