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Divorce Payment Options FAQ
Most divorce lawyers will not start work based on a payment plan. In other words, a plan where the attorney agrees to work on your case through completion, and you pay a relatively small amount every month until all bills have been paid. In fact, most divorce lawyers secure payment in advance of any work through an advance fee deposit, retainer, or flat fee. I personally do not offer payment plans to start work on a case.
A retainer is a payment to insure that a lawyer is available to work on your case. Retainers are usually not refundable. However, your divorce lawyer may be willing work a certain number of hours based on the retainer. For example a lawyer charging $300 per hour, may be willing to work up to ten hours based on a $3,000 retainer. The same lawyer probably would not refund part of the $3,000 if fewer than ten hours are worked. I do not take work based on a Retainer. (I either charge a Flat Fee or require and Advance Fee Deposit).
An Advance Fee Deposit is an amount a lawyer requires you to pay in advance in order to secure payment for future work. An Advance Fee Deposit is refundable to the extent that the lawyer has not earned the deposit. For example if the Advance Fee Deposit was $3,000, and the total billed on the case is $2,000, then the client would be entitled to a return of $1,000 at the end of the case. The Advance Fee Deposit is kept in a separate client trust account, until it has been earned by the lawyer.
Most divorce lawyers accept payment by credit card. I personally accept all major cards. You should determine if your lawyer will charge you a premium to use a credit card. I do not charge extra for payment by credit card.
Yes, if your spouse agrees to pay your fees, or if your spouse is ordered to do so by the judge. However, this may sound better than it really is. Most lawyers will not take a case based on the hope that they will collect fees from your spouse. So, you may still need to come up with the funds to pay your lawyer a substantial Retainer or Advance Fee Deposit. Because my practice is non-litigation based, your spouse would need to agree to pay (and actually pay) my fees for me to work on your case.
I charge by the hour when your case was opened ended issues. For example: when I am acting as a mediator; representing you in a Collaborative Divorce; or negotiating the terms of your divorce with your spouse or your spouse’s lawyer.
When I charge by the hour, I will require an advance fee deposit (similar to a “retainer”), and my fee will be based on the actual hours I work on your case. (My hourly rate is currently $300). Your advance fee deposit is kept in my client trust account, and is reduced each month by the amount of fees and costs billed to your case for the previous month. You are responsible for refilling your advance fee deposit when requested. The size of your advance fee deposit depends on the facts of your case – but is usually between $3,000 to $5,000.
Flat Rate Billing
I often charge by the job (flat fee), when you are hire me for a specific task. For example: when you hire me to prepare specific documents like a Petition, Answer, or Marital Settlement Agreement; or when you hire me for a specific task, like to represent you at a mediation, or to represent you in an agreed and uncontested divorce. The fee for this type of Flat Fee representation is due before work is started on the specific job, and is “earned when paid.” (No refund).
Agreed and uncontested divorces can often be handled on a Flat Fee basis. In an agreed and uncontested divorce, the parties have agreed on the terms of their divorce, and one party hires me to draft the terms and other paperwork to complete the divorce. (In Florida a lawyer cannot represent both parties in a divorce – even if they are in complete agreement). If you would like to find out more about this option, including an estimated fee calculator, click here: Flat Rate Uncontested Divorce.