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Looking for a Cheap Divorce Lawyer? Now Isn't the Time to Pinch Pennies

When times are tight, people look for ways to economize. For some people, that frugal behavior extends to their divorce. You may be thinking about hiring a cheap divorce lawyer or pursuing a do-it-yourself divorce, but that could be a big--and expensive--mistake. You shouldn't skimp when it comes to something as significant as your divorce.

Why Are Fees High or Low?

An attorney's hourly billing rate is determined by a number of factors, including where in the country you live, the lawyer's experience level and the complexity of the legal work. Most divorce lawyers in major metropolitan areas charge several hundred dollars an hour.

If you find a lawyer who promises to help you get a cheap or low-cost divorce, you should ask yourself why the attorney charges so much less than other lawyers you've talked to. In most instances, it's because the lawyer is inexperienced, will only give you very basic legal advice or doesn't have enough business.

In contrast, seasoned divorce attorneys understand the nuances of the law. They will act as a tireless advocate on your behalf, and they'll understand the pros and cons of each decision you must make. Experienced lawyers will have done this kind of legal work hundreds or thousands of times, and you're benefiting from all of that experience. In the long run, an experienced lawyer may actually be the most affordable divorce lawyer.

A Cheap Divorce Lawyer May Be More Expensive

An inexperienced attorney may also charge a lower fee per hour, but ultimately end up spending more hours working on your divorce. We all know that, with practice, we're able to do things faster and more accurately than when we're first starting out. That's no different in the practice of law.

Most lawyers understand that clients may have financial constraints. Talk to your lawyer and your spouse about options that can help reduce legal fees. For example, can you and your spouse reach some basic agreements on child custody and division of property without involving your attorneys in those negotiations? You can then have your attorneys review these agreements to see if there are any potential problems. Your attorney may also be willing to advise you on the divorce and custody agreements, but then let you handle the actual divorce filing yourself.

In some instances a divorce judge will require one spouse to pay the other spouse's legal fees. This is particularly common if one spouse earns significantly more than the other. Your divorce attorney can advise you on the likelihood of whether your spouse may be required to pay your legal fees.

Remember that your divorce is a serious and life-changing event. The decisions you make during the divorce may have long-term ramifications, particularly if they involve child custody issues and alimony agreements. You're making important life decisions, and this isn't the time to pinch pennies.