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How Much Do Seattle Divorce Attorneys Cost?

When thinking about divorce, costs and expenses are probably some of the things you are thinking about. How will a divorce affect your lifestyle? Will you be able to stay in your house, or at least live in a similar house or neighborhood? And how much do Seattle divorce attorneys charge for handling proceedings? Lawyers can charge different ways and different amounts, and this article will help you understand how divorce attorneys bill for their time.

How Seattle Divorce Attorneys Bill

In divorce cases, Seattle divorce lawyers may use a few different methods of charging for their time. Your specific situation and what sort of legal expertise you need can make a difference in the type and amount a lawyer agrees to charge for your divorce process in Seattle, though.

You may find Seattle divorce attorneys who will take your case for a flat fee. With a flat fee, you and the lawyer agree to a set fee before you hire the lawyer, and you may need to pay the entire fee up front. Lawyers usually accept a flat fee when a divorce case is predictable and they can get a good sense beforehand of how much time the matter will take.

You are most likely to find someone who will take your Seattle divorce case for a flat fee if your divorce is uncontested and you and your spouse are on speaking terms and can work together to divide up your assets and arrange child custody, if that is relevant. In this situation, your divorce attorney will mostly ensure that your paperwork is in order and filed correctly. He will also help answer questions as they arise.

If, however, the nature of your divorce or scope of the work changes after hiring the lawyer, you may may have to pay more money. You'll also probably have to pay for additional costs, such as filing fees.

If you and your spouse are having trouble agreeing on the terms of your divorce, you are more likely to work with a King County divorce attorney who charges an hourly rate. With an hourly rate, your lawyer will charge you for the amount of time he actually spends on your case.

Many different factors can affect how much your attorney charges by the hour. Seattle divorce attorneys’ rates can vary based on their education and experience levels. An attorney who has spent decades practicing divorce law and has a proven track record for successfully helping clients will charge more than one who has just graduated from law school. Location can matter, too. A lawyer who is part of a large law firm with spacious offices downtown may charge more than one who has a small office in Kirkland.

Remember, though, that a lawyer who charges a higher hourly rate may still end up costing less than a lawyer who charges less per hour if the experienced lawyer can work more quickly and proactively deal with minor issues before they become major ones.

When lawyers bill by the hour, they typically charge in six- or 15-minute increments. This can significantly affect the bill. For example, suppose you hire a lawyer charges $200 and that lawyer spends five minutes writing an email. If the lawyer bills in six-minute increments, you would pay $20 for the lawyer to write the email. If the lawyer bills in 15-minute increments, that same email would cost $50.

Questions to Ask about Billing

Regardless of how your attorney bills, you should ask specifically about what costs are included in his fees and what's not included. You should also be sure to ask when the lawyer expects to get paid.

If your attorney is handling your case by the hour, ask if you can get an estimate for how much the entire proceeding can take. However, it may be difficult for your attorney to give you an estimate if you and your soon-to-be-ex are arguing over marital property, child custody and other issues.

Once you understand how Seattle divorce attorneys bill for their time, you will be in a better position to hire one who charges fair, reasonable rates to represent you in the divorce proceeding.