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How Much Does a Los Angeles Child Custody Lawyer Cost?

If you are involved in a Los Angeles child custody dispute, you will want to investigate Los Angeles child custody lawyers to hire.

If you've never hire a child custody lawyer before, you're probably wondering how much one costs. This article will explain how Los Angeles custody attorneys bill for their time.

Los Angeles Child Custody Lawyer Billing Methods: The Hourly Rate

Los Angeles child custody lawyers will use one of two billing methods.

The first method is the hourly rate. An hourly rate is when a lawyer charges a set fee for the actual time he works on the case.

A lawyer's hourly rate can vary depending on a number of factors, including:

  • His experience
  • Where in Los Angeles he is located
  • His reputation
  • The lawyer's overhead expenses to operate his office

Regardless of whether the custody case goes in your favor, you will pay the attorney for the amount of time he put into your case. However, just because a Los Angeles child custody attorney charges a higher hourly rate doesn't mean he will end up being more expensive. For example, a very experienced attorney may work faster and more efficiently than a less experienced one, thus reducing the overall cost of his fees in the long run.

Time is usually billed in six- or 15-minute increments. This includes the time the lawyer spends contacting you and other parties in the case, whether that is via phone or e-mail. For example, if a lawyer charges $400 an hour in six-minute increments and spends five minutes writing an e-mail to you, you will pay $40. If the lawyer charges $400 an hour in 15-minute increments and spends five minutes writing an e-mail to you, you will pay $100.

In addition, the hourly rate usually does not cover added expenses such as postage and the cost of making long-distance phone calls and sending faxes. The Los Angeles custody attorney may also ask you for an up-front deposit at first. He will also expect you to pay your bills regularly, usually on a monthly basis.

Los Angeles Child Custody Lawyer Billing Methods: The Flat Fee

The other common fee arrangement you see in Los Angeles child custody cases is the flat fee.

With a flat fee arrangement, you pay an agreed upon amount up front. This type of arrangements is often used for very predictable types of legal work.

Once again, you should ask the attorney what the flat fee does not cover. Often, lawyers will charge additional expenses, such as postage or court costs, on top of the flat fee.

You should also ask the attorney when the fee has to be paid in full. Also, ask if the fee is refundable in the event that you decide to go with a different lawyer.

The Pros and Cons of Fee Arrangements

Whether your Los Angeles custody lawyer wants to use an hourly rate or a flat fee, you do have the ability to negotiate these rates. However, you must negotiate the rates before officially hiring the attorney.

In addition, each fee arrangement has its strengths and weaknesses.

For example, the hourly rate can end up costing you more if your custody case is drawn out. For example, if you and your partner cannot come to an agreement regarding custody and child support, you may have to go to trial to get these issues resolved. If you do, you may be paying quite a bit of money to the attorney if he charges an hourly rate.

However, if the case is resolved quickly, you will end up paying significantly less.

In addition, using the hourly rate can make the total cost of your case very unpredictable. That is why it is advisable that you provide the lawyer with a budget, so you have some concept of how much the lawyer's services will cost.

Flat fee arrangements, on the other hand, are favorable because of their predictability. With a set fee, you know how much your case will cost you.

However, a certain sum of money may be required up front. If you do not have cash on hand, this type of fee arrangement may not work for you. In addition, if the custody case becomes bigger than previously expected, the case may end up costing even more.

The Total Cost of Hiring a Los Angeles Child Custody Lawyer

Before hiring a lawyer, make sure you have a detailed understanding of the costs involved. Questions to ask about the attorney's fees, including:

  • What type of fee arrangement does the lawyer use?
  • What is the specific fee?
  • What costs are extra?
  • What is the estimated total cost to handle your custody case?
  • What payment methods are allowed? When is payment expected?

Once you understand how and how much a lawyer charges. you'll be in a better position to make a hiring decision.