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How Much Do Portland Divorce Lawyers Cost?

Sometimes marriages don’t work out, and it’s in the best interests of both parties to end the relationship. If you’re considering divorce, you’re probably wondering how much it costs to hire a lawyer. This article will explain how Portland divorce lawyers charge for their services.

Portland Divorce Lawyers’ Billing Rates

Most divorce lawyers charge either an hourly rate or flat fee, depending on the complexity of the divorce. The costs associated with a divorce can increase significantly for many reasons, including:

  • If one party contests the divorce
  • If there are children involved
  • If people do not agree on how to split the assets accumulated during the marriage
  • If there are joint business ventures that must be divided because the marriage dissolves

Most Portland divorce lawyers charge an hourly rate, also known as an hourly fee. Under this arrangement, the lawyer charges you for the actual time he spends working on your case.

Most lawyers break that hourly rate down into minute increments—usually six- or 15-minute increments. For example, if you have an attorney who bills in six-minute increments at $200 per hour, a five-minute phone call for your case would cost $20. If an attorney billed in 15-minute increments that same five-minute call would cost $50.

It’s important to note that not all divorce lawyers charge the same rate. A lawyer's hourly rate can vary for a number of reasons, including:

  • Experience
  • Education
  • Reputation
  • Location
  • Overhead expenses to run the office

An experienced divorce lawyer with a good reputation can charge more than an attorney who recently completed law school. A lawyer who works in Portland will cost more than a lawyer based in the small town of Jacksonville, Oregon. Even the costs of running a law office affects a lawyer’s hourly rate.

In addition to the hourly rate, you will have to pay for related fees, such as court costs and filing fees.

Some lawyers may charge a flat fee for a simple, uncontested divorce. Flat fees are charged for predictable types of legal work. Or, if there are no children, property or mutual businesses to be divided, you may be able to negotiate a flat rate.

With a flat fee, the lawyer charges one rate to handle all of the legal work associated with your divorce. However, if your divorce case becomes more complex, a lawyer could ask for additional payment.

If you hire a lawyer who charges a flat rate, you often must pay the fee up front. In addition, confirm if you have any related fees to pay. That flat rate cost may not include court costs and filing fees.

You may have heard that lawyers can charge on contingency. However, a divorce lawyer cannot work on contingency for a divorce case.

Billing Questions to Ask Attorneys

You will get the opportunity to ask a lawyer about his rates during the initial consultation. An initial consultation is a meeting between you and the lawyer to help you decide whether to hire the attorney. You will also discuss the lawyer’s experience, case management style and legal fees. Here is a sampling of billing-related questions you could ask the lawyer to better understand how he charges for services:

  • 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?
  • Who pays your legal fees?
  • Are divorce and mediation services in Portland charged differently?
  • How do you charge for a collaborative divorce in Portland?
  • Can you estimate how much my case will cost, including legal fees and expenses?

Discuss billing rates with a Portland divorce lawyer before hiring one. Make sure to get your agreed-upon rate in writing. You cannot negotiate legal fees after you’ve formally hired a Portland divorce lawyer, so any negotiation efforts should occur before you hire the lawyer.

Since divorces can get expensive, it’s in your best interests to understand the costs associated with your case.