Attorney Fees California

How much does an attorney cost in California?

You have heard horror stories about attorneys. You have heard your friends speak about how they gave their attorney a retainer, thinking the retainer would cover the divorce, only to find that a few months later they were thousands of dollars in debt to their attorney.

You have heard the talk about how expensive attorneys are, and that they are dishonest sharks. You have been told that if you hire an attorney to handle your divorce, you will end up giving all your money to them.

Why you should hire an attorney for your divorce

Now that you are going through a divorce, you are wondering, “Why should I hire an attorney?” The process seems easy. You ask yourself, “Can’t I just download the forms and do the divorce myself?” The answer is yes, you can download some forms and try to handle your divorce on your own. The real question is: “Should you?
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Dismantling the fairy tales

There is a reason that California attorneys must have a minimum of seven years of higher education and then must pass a rigorous test before being allowed to practice law. Even then, they must take classes annually to maintain their license to practice law.

If you have children or own a home, any mistake you make could be catastrophic. A divorce lawyer who has many years of experience knows how to protect you and safeguard your interests.

Not only will your divorce lawyer be able to help you obtain the best results possible, you will be able to move on with your life more quickly, and in a more positive way.
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The cost of hiring an attorney may be a significant barrier to hiring an attorney. You may think you are saving money by finding the cheapest lawyer, or even doing it yourself. 

The question then becomes, how much are you willing to lose over the next several years in order to save money now? Are you willing to settle for less time with your children or less money in your pocket? Are you willing to take less than you are entitled to?

If you do not have the money to finance your own divorce, your spouse may request that you pay his or her attorney’s fees. If you are the spouse who made the majority of the money during the marriage, you may be ordered to pay a portion of your spouse’s fees. 

The amount of the fees will be determined by the court, but they are rarely 100%. Recently, a court decided that both child and spousal support payments should be considered when determining one’s obligation to pay their former spouse’s attorney’s fees. This may affect the amount you pay or receive in attorney fees.

Payment types

While most attorneys bill by the hour and the sky’s the limit as far as the cost of a divorce, at Family Law Matters, we have a unique billing model.

A typical attorney will charge you a retainer fee and then bill you by the hour. Each task completed by the attorney is billed in hourly increments. This means that you are billed for every little thing the attorney and his or her staff does: from opening a letter, to making a phone call, to make a photocopy, to appearing for you in court.

At Family Law Matters, we are a true retainer. We bill you a one-time retainer to take your case, and a monthly membership fee to represent you from there on out.

This fee includes everything we do for you: from meeting with you in our office, to speaking with you on the phone, to appearing with you in court. This unique billing model allows you to budget for your attorney fees and know exactly how much your legal costs will be.

Your attorney - an investment

If you are experiencing a divorce, think of your attorney as an investment. He or she will help you obtain what is rightfully your and take the stress and worry of the situation off your back. If you would like to know more about how an experienced, competent attorney can help you through the process, call us now for a consultation.
investment

Litigation vs. Settlement

As experienced attorneys, we also understand what a gamble it is to litigate. We know the tremendous emotional toll it has on our clients. We also know the risk associated with pleading your case in court. For this reason, litigation is a last result.

We you retain our services, our skilled team of lawyers will evaluate your specific case in order to determine if settlement is an option. Whenever possible our team will explore the possibility of obtaining the best results through negotiation.

We know that by going to court, all power to control the outcome of your case is lost and placed into the hands of your judge. If things go poorly in court for you, it will be difficult to recover.

We also know that the court will have little time to listen to you and consider the facts of this case. For this reason, if it is at all possible to achieve the same of greater results through negotiation, we will encourage you to allow us to do so.
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Whether you are a stay-at-home wife, a military veteran, a businessman, or a celebrity, our mission is the same: to help our clients move forward in life with confidence and security. We have helped thousands of people over the years with family law problems just like yours. If you are experiencing a family law problem in Murrieta, Temecula or the surrounding area, call us now to find out how we can help.

The cost of hiring an attorney is very expensive. Your current situation may not even be your fault. Will the other side have to help you with your fees? Will you get stuck having to pay the other side’s fees? It depends. Sometimes, the court will order one side to pay a portion of the attorney fees incurred by the other party. 

Attorney fees are awarded for various reasons in a family law case. The most common reason is for financial need. If one party earns more than the other, the court may order that party to pay a portion of the other’s attorney fees and costs. However, the family law court will almost never order one spouse to pay all of the other party’s fees; only a portion.

The family law court will sometimes order lawyer fees to be paid when one party refuses to comply with a court order. If one party has to file court papers because one party refuses to comply with the divorce or paternity judgment, the non-complying party will usually be ordered to pay all or part of the other party’s lawyer fees.

Finally, lawyer fees can be awarded as a penalty when one party does not act in good faith. This type of attorney fee award is called a “sanction.” It requires outrageous behavior by one party against the other. The family law court has discretion over the amount of attorney fees it can order, although it must be fair and reasonable.

It is best to count on paying all of your own attorney fees and costs. If the court does make an attorney fee award, it will generally not cover all of the attorney fees incurred. Additionally, even if attorney fees are ordered, they still must be collected. Often times, attorney fees are difficult to collect and the party is stuck paying the whole bill anyway. This is why most attorneys will require their retainers up front.

Please watch our video “Family Law Matters discusses attorney fees” here: