Most people expect to be billed hourly when they hire an attorney. Hourly billing requires a retainer to be paid up front so the attorney can bill against it in either .1 (sometimes .2) increments. Most attorneys operate under this billing structure.
What most people don’t know is that many attorneys offer flat feel billing options. Flat fee billing is where the attorney charges a single flat fee, plus court costs, for the entire action. In regards to divorces, attorneys generally offer flat fee billing for uncontested cases, both with and without children.
There are several advantages to flat fee billing in family law cases. First and foremost, clients know exactly how much it will cost to get divorced. Since one of the most common complaints clients have is cost, flat fee billing resolves this issue by addressing cost upfront, allowing the client to plan appropriately. Flat fee billing also limits the amount of fee disputes and issues with attorney withdrawal.
Flat fee billing has its disadvantages as well. One disadvantage is that the fee is based on the average cost of an action. If the client’s action is much simpler than the average case, the client ends up paying more. Another disadvantage, specific to family law, is that some cases start off uncontested and become contested as the case progresses. Generally, when this happens, the case becomes an ‘hourly billing’ case and the attorney begins billing based on his or her hours spent working on the case.
Flat fee billing can be an excellent option for those considering divorce. At Miller, Zimmerman & Evans, we offer flat fee uncontested divorces – $1,500 for divorces with no children; $1,800 for divorces with children. This amount does not include court costs. If the divorce ends up being contested, we simply switch clients over to an hourly rate.
Please call us if with any questions.