The Cost of a Divorce
If you and your spouse can’t work out the differences and opt for a contested divorce, the cost can add up if everything needs to contested, it’s best you agree on some of the items and decide which areas you’re willing to be lenient in negotiations, before going for a contested divorce, but if it’s necessary be prepared to pay a premium for the divorce.
Just about all divorce lawyers will require a retainer or deposit when you retain their services. The retainer will be used to deduct the fees you owe as the case goes on, once the retainer gets close to being used up, the divorce lawyer will ask you to put add to the retainer. Your divorce lawyer will be held to the highest ethical standard and can give all the details regarding the amounts deducted if required. The retainer will be held in a trust for the duration of the trail and will only deduct for the portion used to cover his fees and expenses associated with your divorce case.
If litigation is expected you can expect the retainer to be upwards of $15,000 upfront. A lawyer charges $400 per hour the retainer will last for 37.5 hours of his services, in many cases you can ask the lead lawyer to have one of his more junior associates handle your divorce case and have the more experienced Atlanta divorce lawyer oversee the case thus reducing the cost associated with your case. If you’re ever concerned with the fees charged, understand you can always ask for detailed report of the billing.
The retainer covers the terms of the relationship and the billing agreement. The billing agreement will consist of:
The hourly rate agreement will state the lawyer’s hourly fee and the rates of any other attorneys who will be assisting on your case. This will include the cost of paralegals or junior associates of the firm, which will be significantly less the cost of the managing lawyer’s fee. Some lawyers will charge more if they need to spend time in the courtroom.
You’ll need to know how often the lawyer will deduct from the retainer and ask to see a sample of how detailed the billing agreement will be. This will give you an idea of the cost and the charges you can expect from your lawyer.
Aside from the cost of the lawyers and paralegals that’ll be handling your case the law firm may also charge you for copying, postage, faxing or any other expenses associated. It’s a good idea make sure the charges are detailed in the agreement for the various expenses associated with the case. You may also want to have a clause stating you need to authorize expenses for your case above a specified amount. If experts are required you may want to be able to authorize the cost of expert witnesses above a certain amount.
Make sure your retainer doesn’t contain a clause specifying that the retainer isn’t refundable, you should be able to get back any unused portion of the retainer. It’s highly unethical for your divorce attorney to retain any portion of the unused amount.
You also need to make sure the lawyer can’t end the contract negatively and you should also retain the right to end the contract if you feel your attorney isn’t up to your standards, in these situations you should also be able to get any portion of the unused retainer back.
Your agreement with your attorney may have other specifics, it’s a good idea to go through with it detail to make sure the contract is acceptable for you financially and meets your objectives of the divorce, should the case go to trial.
Aside from the divorce you’ll also have to look into the cost associated with child support the standard calculations used to calculate child support in Georgia can found here http://www.georgiacourts.gov/csc/ with child support payments there are standard rules of how much income will be used to support each child.