How Much Do Massachusetts Divorce Attorneys Cost?
If you are involved in a divorce or are considering filing for divorce, you are probably wondering how much Massachusetts divorce attorneys cost. Billing arrangements and rates can vary quite a bit, so this article will explain how lawyers charge for their services.
How Massachusetts Divorce Attorneys Charge
In a divorce case, lawyers will typically charge one of two types of billing arrangements: Fixed fee or hourly rate. The type of divorce you are pursuing can make a difference regarding which type of rate your attorney will charge.
With a fixed-fee rate, you and your Massachusetts divorce attorney agree ahead of time on the total cost of the legal work. You may have to pay the entire amount upfront. Divorce lawyers in Massachusetts will probably only charge a fixed fee when your divorce is straightforward, and you and your ex agree on most of the major issues, like dividing up property, child custody and other things.
If you are pursuing a fault-based divorce or your spouse is contesting the divorce, your attorney will probably not offer you fixed fee rate, since it can be hard to predict how long your proceeding could take.
If you and your spouse can calmly discuss how to divide your property and arrange for child custody where appropriate, you may want to consult with a divorce mediator in Massachusetts before you visit a lawyer. A mediator can help you think through many of the issues. This will save you money on attorneys’ costs since you will mostly need a lawyer to help with the paperwork and court proceedings.
Of course, emotions can run high in a divorce, and dividing up property and assets can be very complicated. If this is your situation, you will probably need to work with an attorney who charges by the hour.
In this type of situation, the lawyer charges a set fee for the actual amount of time he works on your case, and he will typically bill in six- or 15-minute increments. For example, if your lawyer bills in 15-minute increments and spends 5 minutes on the phone with your ex’s lawyer, he will charge you for 15 minutes of his time. If he appears in court on your behalf for two hours and 16 minutes, he will charge you for two and a half hours.
Lawyers’ fees can vary quite a bit, based on experience, background, reputation and location. An attorney who has spent years managing divorce cases will probably charge more than one who just graduated law school. Lawyers who are well-known for their divorce experience will charge more than ones who may practice other types of family law or who just began practicing. And Massachusetts divorce attorneys with offices near Boston Common will charge more than ones based in Wareham.
Questions to Ask about Costs
The first time you meet with a lawyer is the initial consultation. This is your chance to ask questions about different fees, and you should ask a lot of them, including:
- What types of fees do you charge?
- How much are those fees?
- What are extra, such as court filing fees?
- What types of payment do you accept?
- How much do I need to pay up front?
- How often do you bill?
During your divorce, you will have a lot of things to consider. Once you understand how Massachusetts divorce attorneys charge for their services, you will be in a better position to hire the right lawyer for you.