What Will My Georgia Divorce or Family Case Cost?
It is often difficult to predict what a divorce or family law case will cost. Georgia divorces, modifications and contempt actions vary in complexity and difficulty from case to case. In general, the easier the issues and more friendly the parties to a case are, the less expensive the attorney’s fees. On the other hand, cases in which there are complex issues or ongoing disagreements between the parties that require extensive negotiating and settlement efforts or trial are generally more expensive.
Do I Need An Attorney For My Case?
There are many stores selling “self-help” documents. However, these forms do not provide you with legal advice and do not help you evaluate your rights.
Too often people who utilize self-help forms receive far less than what the law would have provided them.
Be careful with paralegal services which offer to assist you in completing self-help forms. You should be aware that paralegals and document preparers are not allowed to provide legal advice, and are prevented by law from evaluating your case and advising you of your legal rights. You may want a quick divorce, but it is important that you understand all of your options and all of your rights.
The real value in hiring an attorney is the legal advice and information that only lawyers are legally allowed to provide to you.
It is often a difficult decision whether to hire an attorney or attempt to represent yourself in a divorce or family law case. Having handled many cases in which clients have initially tried to represent themselves without success, and cases in which clients have prepared their own legal documents only to return later to fight over the legal meaning of improperly phrased documents, you should at least consult with a Georgia divorce attorney before proceeding to represent yourself.
In general, the more complex issues, the more important it becomes to have an attorney. You should have an attorney in the following situations:
- If there are children involved, you may need an attorney to, at a minimum, ensure that child support is properly calculated and that the parenting plan protects and fosters your relationship with your children and is in the best interest of your children.
- If either party is seeking spousal maintenance, you may need an attorney to help structure creative alimony solutions.
- If you own real estate, a business, or significant personal property or financial assets, or if either party has a retirement account (401(k), IRA, etc.) or pension, you may need an attorney to ensure that these are properly divided.
Hourly Billing and Retainers or Advance Deposits
While we offer flat fee cases for uncontested divorces, most other family law cases including contested divorces are billed on an hourly basis. We work to ensure that we offer you professional and aggressive representation throughout your case. As with most family law attorneys, our hourly billing cases require an initial advance on fees or a deposit, which deposit generally start at $2,000 and can be higher depending upon the perceived initial complexity of your case.
Flat Fee Billing for Uncontested Divorces:
Because of the large demand, we have initiated a flat fee cost for uncontested divorces. Many of our clients have hired us to assist them in completing the initial pleadings to commence the case and also to complete the settlement documents with the appropriate legal wording to ensure they are not later haunted by common mistakes of unrepresented parties. However, the clients have already reached an agreement on all issues and are not seeking our assistance to negotiate or litigate their case.
In an uncontested case, we will represent only you. We prepare all documents necessary to get your uncontested case concluded. Our flat fee includes an initial consultation with an attorney, preparation of all necessary documents, and a revision of the settlement documents (if necessary).
Helpful Tips to Keep Attorney’s Fees Down
The following are some suggestions on how to reduce legal costs when working with an attorney:
- Be organized. Provide your attorney with copies of letters, documents and other important papers at the first meeting.
- Be prepared with written questions for your attorney to answer.
- Keep your attorney informed, but don’t make unnecessary calls and send unnecessary emails.
- Arrive in Court and for appointments with your attorney on time.
- Ask if there are other ways you can reduce costs.
- Keep a file with copies of the documents sent by the Court or your attorney.