If you have ever hired an attorney before, you have probably heard about how different fees can be charged. While some lawyers may bill at an hourly rate, some may also have a single or “flat fee” for certain services. The prices tend to be for limited-scope matters. When the cost is associated with a divorce case, you may ask: Is it time for a flat fee divorce?
What is a Flat Fee Divorce?
A flat-fee divorce can involve different issues, but, in many instances, when an attorney is willing to complete a case for a single price, the matter tends to be less complicated. There will usually be conditions or contingencies that can implicate other fees or an hourly rate.
Ordinarily, the case must be uncontested, meaning that the other party does not have an attorney, agrees with the divorce, and does not plan to fight on the issues. The attorney will usually prepare and send a document to the other party to sign, waiving service of the process. Then she will draft the materials necessary to complete the divorce. The fees tend to vary depending on the issues.
At first glance, a flat fee divorce may seem like an easy and economical way to get divorced. If everything goes as planned, this type of divorce may be fine. However, there is always the possibility that circumstances may arise that take you outside of the limited conditions that the flat fee was intended to cover.
For instance, if the other party will not waive service of the process, you may have to pay an additional fee to have them served. Further, once your ex is served, he may decide to get their own attorney and file responsive pleadings and discovery. At that point, you may have to pay an hourly rate for your representation.
Family law cases can be unpredictable and the one-size-fits-all style that a flat fee case offers may not be suitable for your situation. The best way to determine the type of representation you need is by meeting with an experienced family law attorney who can help you evaluate the issues.
Attorney Karyn Youso of First Look Family Law has experience helping clients with divorce cases and can help you understand your options and explore potential solutions.