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How Much Does a Philadelphia Child Custody Lawyer Cost?

If you are involved in a Philadelphia custody dispute, you will want to hire a Philadelphia custody lawyer. A Philadelphia child custody lawyer can provide you with legal counsel throughout the child custody case.

You are probably wondering how much a lawyer costs. This article will explain how a Philadelphia custody lawyer bills for his time.

There are a couple of billing methods you may encounter when dealing with Philadelphia custody attorneys. Each has its pros and cons. Also, you are able to negotiate legal fees, but you must do so prior to hiring the attorney.

Philadelphia Custody Attorneys: The Hourly Rate

One commonly used fee arrangement is the hourly rate. The hourly rate charges a set fee for the actual time your lawyer spends working on your case. Lawyers who use the hourly rate typically charge in either six- or 15-minute increments. They also bill for every minute spent working on your case, including communications to you. That means you will pay for every e-mail or phone call related to your case.

Whether the lawyer charges in six- or 15-minute increments can have a drastic impact on the overall cost of his services. For example, if the lawyer charges $400 an hour and spends five minutes writing an e-mail to you, you'd pay $40 to the lawyer who charges every six minutes. However, you'd pay $100 to the lawyer who bills in 15-minute increments.

In addition, certain factors affect how much the attorney charges per hour. These factors include:

  • The Philadelphia custody lawyer's level of experience and education
  • The lawyer's reputation
  • The lawyer's specific geographic location
  • The lawyer's overhead expenses to operate his office

You may also have to pay for other expenses not included in the hourly rate, such as postage and faxes. Remember, though, that just because a lawyer charges a higher hourly rate doesn't mean you'll necessarily pay more in total legal fees. If the lawyer has more experience, he may work more efficiently, thus reducing your overall costs in the long run.

With an hourly rate arrangement, the lawyer may ask for a retainer up front. A retainer is a deposit that a client pays to retain the lawyer's services. In addition, you will be expected to pay your bills regularly and on time, usually on a monthly basis.

Philadelphia Custody Attorneys: The Flat Fee

Philadelphia custody lawyers may use the flat-fee billing method. This method requires the client to pay a single, agreed-upon fee for the lawyer's services.

Flat fees are usually used for very predictable legal work. In addition, certain costs may not be covered under your flat fee. Ask the attorney what is and is not covered, including court costs.

You should also ask the attorney when the fee has to be paid. Also, is the fee refundable in the event you decide to go with another lawyer?

Billing Method Advantages & Disadvantages

The hourly rate and flat fees each have their advantages and disadvantages. The right fee arrangement for you will depend on your specific circumstances.

One advantage of the hourly rate is that you could end up paying very little if your case does not last long. However, if your case drags on, you may end up paying a hefty bill.

Also, the hourly rate makes it difficult to predict overall costs. That is why you may want to provide your custody lawyer with a budget if he uses this method.

On the other hand, flat fees offer the predictability that the hourly rate does not. However, money may be required up front, so you may need to have disposable income to use this billing method.

In addition, if your custody case becomes bigger than expected, you may be on the hook for additional fees.

Understanding Legal Fees

Ask a lot of questions to ensure you understand the lawyer's billing method and the anticipated costs. Questions to ask include:

  • What type of fee arrangement does the lawyer use?
  • What is the specific fee?
  • What costs are not covered by the fee?
  • Can he provide an estimated total cost for your custody case?
  • What methods of payment does the lawyer accept? When is payment expected?

Once you speak to the lawyer and have an understanding of his costs, you'll be in a better position to hire an attorney.