Types of Services
Flat fee services
Flat fee services are engagements that are usually limited in scope – i.e. will, contract review, default divorce, and some civil proceedings, with the fee earned at the front of services. Ask if your legal matter would qualify for a flat fee.
Unbundled services are limited scope services like legal advice, court coaching, legal writing and/or document prep to name a few. Unbundled services are a flat hourly rate. Learn more about unbundled services in our blog.
Litigation does not mean that you are necessarily fighting or going to trial. It may be that you are hiring a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf. Court appearances and hearings are types of litigation more commonly used over trial.
The collaborative law approach to divorce involves each of you hiring your own “collaborative lawyer,” who agrees to work out the terms of your divorce without going to court. While normally less expensive than traditional litigation, it typically involves the use of multiple professionals in addition to attorneys for both parties, including a divorce coach, a child development/parenting specialist, and an accountant.
Collaborative divorce does not promote itself as a low cost process, but instead as a more holistic approach. It is a team dedicated to guiding clients to reach an amicable settlement with both parties’ interests met to the fullest extent possible. It emphasizes family relationships being intact post-divorce. Each divorce professional charges his/her own hourly rates and may require individual retainers. However, there are no court fees for serving motions or discovery demands; only at the very end do the attorneys file their appearance in court. If for any reason, the couple fails in this process, the entire team is disallowed from representing either spouse, and divorce process starts all over again at full cost to the couple.
The cost of mediation is significantly less than the alternatives. Like collaborative divorce, mediation is focused on cooperation and full disclosure. Again, like the other routes, parties are encouraged to at the least each consult with attorneys. Although parties have costs for their time with attorneys as well, the attorneys’ role is limited compared to the other options, and divorce mediation is still less expensive than the alternatives – on average.
A mediator is a neutral party whose hourly fees and business models vary greatly. The mediation process is defined at the outset and costs are identified. Mediators rely upon the couple to produce almost all of the information and financial discovery, and come up with issues of concern. A mediator facilitates the couple in reaching a settlement that best suits both of their needs/desires. Many states require that both parties hire outside review counsel to ensure they have not forfeited their rights unknowingly and to ensure the process is unbiased.
In addition to court and legal fees, you must also keep in mind the additional costs of your legal matter like process service, private detectives, financial experts, police reports and the list goes on……
Quit claim deeds, notary services, QDROs, Child support calculations fall under additional services that is provided with or without additional fees related to your legal matter. Your engagement contract should outline which services have an additional fee.