There are several ways to save money during your divorce
Whether it’s a child custody case or a divorce, you’ll most likely want to hire a family lawyer in Chandler to help guide you through the process so that the outcome is successful. But many wonder how much is the cost of hiring a family lawyer and if they can really afford to hire one for their specific case. Worrying about how a family lawyer cost will affect your budget is normal. You don’t want to blow your entire savings on a family lawyer in Chandler after all!
The Cost of Divorce Attorney in Arizona
Everybody knows divorce is costly—but if you ask, it seems few people are willing to tell you exactly HOW costly. One figure that’s been floated about as “average” for an Arizona divorce is $15,000-$20,000. Of course, every divorce is different. There are different types of expenses associated with divorce: filing fees and attorney fees are the primary categories, along with fees for the services of other professionals, such as accountants and appraisers.
As you might expect, the cost of a contested high net worth divorce will be the highest. You can think of this as the worst-case scenario. If there are significant assets in the marriage and the case is heavily contested, you can expect the costs to rise significantly. In such a case each attorney will likely be engaged in an extensive discovery process, and there will be a protracted period of litigation involved. In this kind of worst-case scenario, it is not unusual for legal fees to exceed $50,000 or even $100,000.
In cases where there is a primary earner and child custody issues are involved, the average cost of divorce generally trends lower. The costs associated with a divorce tend to be far lower in cases where there are no children and a more modest set of marital assets. Costs are generally lower for couples without children, but even if children are involved it is possible to keep costs down.
As of this writing in 2018, the filing fee for a divorce petition (whether individual or joint) is $234. A response to the petition carries a filing fee of $159. There may also be additional court fees, such as for the filing of motions during the case. There are additional expenses if experts are retained for some purpose during the course of your divorce proceedings.
Cost of hiring family lawyer vary by case condition
The reason it is hard to predict what an Arizona divorce will cost is that there are so many variables that go into determining the final bill. One is the attorney’s hourly rate. CBS News has reported that the average hourly rate for a divorce attorney is $402. Of course, the rate of an attorney you choose might be higher or lower. Although you need not retain the most expensive attorney, you probably also don’t want to go with the cheapest one you can find.
Why not? Well, to a certain extent, you get what you pay for. An attorney who charges a higher-than-average fee does so because he or she has a level of skill or experience that makes people willing to pay more than they would have to pay another attorney. An attorney who charges rock-bottom prices, on the other hand, may know that he or she can’t compete on skill or experience, so the only way to attract clients is to slash fees. Of course, an attorney who charges very low fees must then take on more clients in order to make money, which means individual clients get less time and less personalized attention.
Furthermore, because that bargain-basement attorney probably can’t compete with higher-priced attorneys in terms of skill, your outcome with a low-price attorney will likely be less favorable. You could end up paying more in spousal maintenance or having less time with your kids.
Of course, an attorney’s hourly rate is not the only consideration. Your total attorney fee is the rate multiplied by the number of hours the attorney works on your behalf. An experienced Arizona family law attorney may be able to resolve your case more quickly and favorably than an unskilled attorney. What that means is that even though one attorney’s rate is lower, your total fee paid could end up being higher than with a more experienced attorney.
Therefore, it’s hard to really know what a family lawyer cost will be initially since every case is different and each lawyer has their own fees. Most family lawyers in Chandler charge by the hour, so the final cost is something that’s hard to predict exactly. But the main predictor of the total family lawyer cost will be how soon you and your ex can reach an agreement on the divorce. The longer the entire divorce process takes, the more money you’ll end up spending. Plus, there are many other factors out of your control, such as if your ex is represented by a family lawyer in Chandler, too, and how aggressive that attorney is.
Many times, a child-custody case, divorce or other family law matter is more of a marathon instead of a sprint, which can make the family law attorney cost be more than expected. Since this is usually the case, many start strong and then taper off later in the process because of the lack of funds to cover the entire case. Many times, the most financial resources are needed for the trail and other evidentiary hearings and this can be months after you first file for a divorce.
If you think you can’t cover the cost of hiring a family lawyer, you might want to ask your family lawyer in Chandler about alternative dispute resolution options, which might be cheaper. These include mediation, arbitration, and collaborative law. These methods don’t require a lawyer, tend to be quicker divorce processes and are cheaper options than going to court. If you’re unsure of how much you can afford when factoring in at the family law attorney cost into your budget, these alternative dispute resolution options can still be successful ways to get what you want out of the divorce. Check out this article. We have explained alternative dispute resolution in detail.
Everything You Need to Know About Alternate Dispute Resolution
To offset the family law attorney cost, you can opt to do as much of the legwork on your own, which might make hiring an attorney more affordable. This means being your own private detective by finding copies of records, going through texts and emails, sorting through financial documents and all the grunt work that a lawyer’s staff might do. This way, you compile everything your lawyer will need for your case. Just make sure that you file all relevant information by subject matter or in chronological order. Label it all with short descriptions of what topics are covered, which will make it easier to review everything you submit. While you can easily create a binder for them, you might also want to send over everything electronically. This will allow your family lawyer in Chandler to spend more time on your actual case instead of the follow-up work needed to get it all together.
Keeping the Cost of Your Arizona Divorce Down
Aside from choosing an attorney with a reasonable rate, there’s not much you can do to affect an attorney’s hourly fee. There are, however, several things you can do to reduce the number of hours your attorney needs to put into your divorce.
One couple spent $5,000 in legal fees to figure out who would get a particular item worth about a hundred dollars in their divorce. Don’t be that couple.
Simplest (but not always easiest) is to minimize squabbling with your soon-to-be ex. The more you fight, the longer settlement negotiations take and the greater the likelihood of needing to bring your disputes before a judge. Appearing in court is sometimes necessary, but if it’s not, it is a very expensive way of resolving disputes. We’ve seen a couple spend $5,000 in legal fees to figure out who would get a particular item worth about a hundred dollars in their divorce. Don’t be that couple.
Another way to keep your costs down is to make it easier for your attorney to get the information he or she needs. If you have access to financial records, for instance, you can give your attorney copies and save the expense of your attorney having to track them down. Prepare for meetings with your attorney as you would any business meeting. Preparation saves time; saving time saves money.
Similarly, when you need to communicate with your attorney, think about when it’s important to speak directly versus writing an e-mail. A good attorney is happy to talk to you on the phone when that’s what you need, but if all you need to do is convey information or ask a brief question, you may be able to accomplish that in an e-mail rather than paying for your attorney’s time on the phone.
More ways to keep family lawyer costs down include:
Finding people who could testify positively on your behalf so that the lawyer doesn’t have to do this.
Looking for key documents that could be used by your lawyer as exhibits to help your case be successful.
Putting together summaries of key arguments and facts, any timelines, and financial spreadsheets that will be relevant to your case.
Talking with witnesses and asking them if the can testify for you
But before you start this entire process, it’s best if you speak to your family lawyer in Chandler before taking on these extra tasks. Be upfront with them about realistic family lawyer costs and ask about what you can do in order to make their services more affordable and within your budget.
A huge way to keep costs down is essentially being responsive to your lawyer when they ask for your help. The less they have to do, the more money you’ll end up saving. Make yourself available at a moment’s notice so that you save them from having to do extra work that’ll eventually be added to your fees. Respond to all information requests as complete as possible in a prompt manner and if you aren’t sure what you are being asked for, do not ignore the rest, but ask for more details.
You might also want to email questions or concerns rather than calling our attorney to keep family law attorney costs down. Calling the office all the time might make the attorney feel as if they have to review your file to respond to your inquiries, which means more time billed. But if you email the questions, they’ll be able to respond without having to look at your file.
It’ll also be less expensive if your attorney knows all the facts in the beginning. Take the time to get all that facts down since providing small snippets of information as the case progresses will only end up costing you more in the long run. This is because your attorney will need to go back and see where this new information fits best into the case, which will take more hours than if they knew all the necessary information in the beginning. They’ll then follow up with you regarding any additional questions they have.
Generally, it is possible to keep family law attorney costs low if you know what to do so that the lawyer has everything needed to win your case!
It might have occurred to you that the best way to keep your divorce costs down is just to hire an attorney. Before you choose this path, learn why you should have an attorney for your divorce. In short, sometimes you spend money, and it’s an expense. Sometimes, it’s an investment. We invite you to contact Shaffer Family Law online or call (480)-386-5362 today to schedule a free consultation. Our goal is to help you build the best possible future after divorce—and that means helping you conserve your resources beforehand.