How Much Does a Cleveland Divorce Lawyer Charge?
Almost half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. If you want to dissolve your marriage, but are wondering how much the process costs, you should schedule an initial consultation with a Cleveland divorce lawyer and discuss rates. This article will provide you with some insight into how a lawyer charges for his services.
Divorce lawyers in Cleveland charge either an hourly rate or a flat fee. The type of rate a lawyer charges depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of the divorce. Your total divorce costs will depend on a number of reasons, including:
- If children are involved
- If someone contests the divorce
- If you cannot amicably split assets
- If you have a business to divide
The Hourly Rate
With an hourly rate, you pay a divorce lawyer in Cleveland for the actual amount of time he works on your case, mutliplied by his hourly fee.
This charge does not include ancillary fees, such as court costs and filing fees.
Most lawyers will charge for their time in six- or 15-minute increments. For example, a five-minute phone call by an attorney who bills in 15-minute increments at $200 an hour would cost you $50. On the other hand, that same five-minute call would cost $20 if the lawyer bills in six-minute increments.
Divorce lawyers do not charge the same hourly rate for multiple reasons. A lawyer’s rates can increase because of educational level, experience and reputation in the divorce arena. Where their office is based and overhead expenses also factor into a lawyer’s hourly rate. Thus a divorce lawyer in Cleveland can charge more by the hour than a divorce lawyer in Ada, Ohio.
No matter how your divorce pans out, once you retain a lawyer you are financially obligated to pay for his services.
Many lawyers may ask for a retainer, or up-front deposit, to help cover costs. The retainer would be put into an account, and then the lawyer would draw funds every month to cover his legal fees. Once the retainer is used up, you have to pay the remaining costs out of pocket.
If you hire a lawyer by the hour and your case is quickly resolved, you will not spend a lot of money out of pocket. But if your divorce proceeding is prolonged for any reason, costs could quickly mount.
Since the costs associated with your divorce are difficult to predetermine, you may want to set a budget with the lawyer to ensure you can pay for it.
The Flat Rate
Cleveland divorce lawyers could also charge a flat fee for simple divorce proceedings. An uncontested divorce with no children to contend with or property to divide would probably qualify for a flat-rate fee.
If your divorce proceeding becomes more complicated, a lawyer could charge more to cover the costs.
A lawyer who charges a flat rate for his services must be paid in advance. This rate may not include ancillary fees, such as court costs and filing fees, so ask what is and what is not included in the flat rate.
The Contingency Fee
You may have heard that some lawyers work on contingency, which means they won’t get paid unless money is recovered. A divorce lawyer cannot work on contingency.
This rate applies to personal injury cases such as auto accidents, medical malpractice suits, work-related injuries and dog bites.
Billing Questions to Ask a Cleveland Divorce Lawyer
Before hiring a lawyer, it’s a good idea to meet with him to discuss your divorce, talk about legal fees, experience and how he would manage the case. This meeting is called an initial consultation. They are generally free, but confirm this when scheduling an appointment.
To ensure you know how much the lawyer will charge for his services, ask questions. Sample questions include:
- How do you charge for your services?
- What’s included in your rate?
- What fees are not included in your rate?
- Do I have to pay a retainer?
- What type of fee arrangement can I negotiate?
- Will you put our fee arrangement in writing?
- How often will I be billed?
- Can you estimate how much my case will cost?
Take the time to learn how a Cleveland divorce lawyer charges for services before hiring one. Fees are not negotiable once you’ve retained a lawyer, so it’s in your best interests to understand how much your divorce could cost you.