How Much Will My Divorce or Child Custody Case Cost?
The easy answer to that is it depends. Family law attorneys typically charge by the hour, so the more contested your case is, the more it’s going to cost you. We typically require a retainer to be paid up front, so this is how I handle the attorney’s fees and retainers on my end. I ask the client pay a retainer fee up front. My minimum retainer fee is three thousand dollars. It can go up from there depending on the complexity and anticipated conflict in your case. I bill against that retainer fee at my hourly rate of $285 an hour. My paralegal, Jody Cochran, is $155 an hour, and support staff is $50 an hour. We take your retainer fee and we put it in our trust account, so that stays your money until we have worked on your case and we have issued a bill and we have earned that money.
Sometimes people will come in, they’ll see me, they’ll hire me to start a divorce case, and then they will reconcile with their spouse, and that’s great. We encourage people to try and work out their differences. If you’re able to reconcile with your spouse and you still have money on account with us, you will get a refund. We will refund your money less any amounts that we’ve earned through work we’ve done on your case. Other factors that play into how much this is going to cost me include whether or not you need expert witnesses for your case. Do you need to have a house appraised? That can run anywhere between five hundred and a thousand dollars. Do you need a vocational evaluation done by the other party because maintenance or child support is an issue? Perhaps that party hasn’t worked outside the home for a long period of time.
A vocational evaluation typically is into the thousand to two thousand dollar range. What if you are having disputes about parenting time and can’t agree on what is in the best interest of your child. There’s an option for an expert called a child and family investigator. The statutory cap for that is $2,750 and is typically divided equally between the parties subject to reallocation at the time of permanent orders. If there are really serious concerns about parenting time, concerns about the mental health of the other parent, maybe you have concerns about drug and alcohol issues, there is a provision for a parental responsibilities evaluation. Those are done by a mental health professional, and those can be quite costly. The last parental responsibilities evaluation that I had done cost 20 thousand dollars. So you need to think long and hard about whether your dispute with the other parents about parenting time is worth that added cost.
And so again, if you have to have a temporary orders hearing because you can’t agree on how we’re going to pay the bills and maintain the status quo moving forward, that’s going to drive the cost of your case up. And if you are unable to reach a resolution and have to go before the judge for your permanent orders hearing, that is going to drive your cost up as well. So the short answer is it depends, but come in, see me, we can talk about a strategy moving forward, and see what we can do to minimize the cost for your case.