Getting a Divorce in Canton, Georgia?
Going through a divorce is hard enough without worrying about the cost and how you’ll pay for it. You may be wondering what to expect in terms of billing and fees, and what to expect for your money.
Here are some answers to common attorney fee questions.
How Much Will My Attorney Charge for Representing Me in My Divorce?
Most Canton divorce lawyers charge an hourly rate that applies to everything they do to handle your case. Billable hours can include time spent:
- Communicating with you, including emails, texts and calls
- Doing research and preparation for the case
- Preparing legal documents and filing briefs
- Negotiating with the other side
- Traveling to and attending court appearances
Rates can range anywhere from $250-$600 an hour depending on whom you hire, where you live and other factors, but the average hourly rate is around $350.
How and When Can I Expect to Pay Attorney Fees?
Lawyers typically request a retainer up front, which is basically a lump sum payment toward future hours billed. They will then deduct money from this sum as they do billable work for you.
Once the retainer has been exhausted, the firm will ask for an additional retainer.
If your case is resolved before the retainer is used up, you will usually be refunded the remaining balance. Some retainers may be non-refundable, however, so make sure to ask before you hire.
Do Attorney Fees Cover All the Costs of My Divorce, or Should I Expect to Pay for Other Things?
Attorney fees only cover the cost of your lawyer’s services, so you will likely have to pay for things like court fees and administration costs on top of what you pay your attorney.
You may also be charged for things like mediation or expert services like forensic accounting, private investigation or custody evaluation in more complex cases.
Be sure to ask about all the costs you might expect to incur in your particular situation.
Will I Actually Have to Pay the Attorney Fees, or Can My Spouse Be Ordered to Pay Them?
Generally, each spouse must pay his or her own attorney’s fees. There are situations where one spouse will be required to pay the other’s attorney’s fees, but you shouldn’t count on it.
Some situations where attorney fees may be awarded to you in Canton:
- Your spouse earns considerably more than you
- Certain types of child support cases
- Your spouse acts in bad faith and stalls the divorce proceedings
Know that there are no guarantees you’ll be awarded back your attorney fees, and be sure to factor in the very real possibility that you’ll be paying for your legal services yourself.
What Services Am I Getting for the Attorney Fees I Pay?
When you hire a divorce attorney, they usually handle everything for you from start to finish.
Your lawyer will review and research your case, conduct discovery and manage communication with your spouse’s lawyer, draft and file all the necessary legal documents, and, of course, attend hearings and trials.
More complicated cases may also require working with experts to determine difficult property, custody, or other issues that have an important bearing on the case.
On your end, you’ll just need to candidly answer all the questions your attorney asks, provide financial and other legal documents when requested, and follow your attorney’s directives as the case proceeds.
Are There Ways to Keep My Attorney Fee Costs Down?
Be as honest and clear as possible with your lawyer when relaying the details of your situation and provide well-organized financial and other records in a timely fashion.
Remember that you’ll be billed for every email, call and text, so keep your communications on an as-needed basis and try to be concise.
Being cooperative and flexible can go a long way in keeping costs down, too. If you and your spouse can agree on how to split property or handle custody issues beforehand, you can save yourself a lot of billable hours.
Settling your divorce out of court or using mediation to come to an agreement can save everyone time and money, as well.
Talk to your attorney for advice about what’s worth fighting over and what warrants compromise, so you can make informed and strategic decisions throughout the process.
Talk to a Canton Divorce Attorney Now
Amanda Speights is a co-founder and lead family law attorney at Speights Law, PC in Cherokee County. She is an experienced family law lawyer who handles an assortment of domestic cases, including divorce, child custody, child support, appeals and other types of litigation in the state of Georgia. To contact Amanda, please visit our contact page.