Bridging the gap
for changing families

Budgeting for Divorce and Custody Litigation


Managing Family Law Costs

Family law litigation, whether it’s divorce proceedings or custody battles, is both emotionally taxing but can also be financially draining. What should you expect? How can you afford the investment to get the best results possible in your particular situation?  As a seasoned family law attorney with around two decades of experience, I understand the concerns and uncertainties that clients face when it comes to budgeting for legal representation. Today I want to help explain why the investment of hiring a lawyer can seem substantial.

Understanding the Costs

First and foremost, it’s crucial to understand why family law litigation comes with a significant price tag. Family law matters are inherently complex and often involve intricate legal procedures, negotiations, and court appearances. As such, attorneys devote substantial time and resources to ensure that clients’ rights and interests are adequately represented.

How Lawyers Get Paid

Lawyers of any kind can generally charge fees in one of three ways:

  1. Contingency Fee
    Lawyer or firm is paid a percentage of the amount recovered on behalf of a client. This is most often used by personal injury or civil litigation lawyers. It is ethically not allowed for family law cases in most, if not all, states.
  2. Hourly Fees
    Lawyer is paid for the time actually spent on the case. This is the most common fee structure for lawyers, but critics note that it rewards inefficiency and sometimes prevents lawyers from doing the work needed (if not enough money held in trust to cover the time) and because the actions of other side then can control the costs for the other party/parties.
  3. Flat Fees
    A flat fee for specific services provided that includes certain services but excludes other actions/services. This means that clients know upfront what they will be charged for legal services, providing transparency and predictability in terms of costs. Flat fees allow clients to budget more effectively without the uncertainty of hourly billing, where costs can quickly escalate with each consultation or court appearance.

Budgeting Strategies

When budgeting for family law matters, it’s essential to prioritize expenses and allocate funds accordingly. Here are some practical strategies to consider:

  1. Your Case Assessment: Begin by scheduling a consultation (or strategy session) with a reputable family law attorney to discuss your case and obtain an assessment of potential costs. This initial meeting allows you to gauge the attorney’s expertise and determine if their services align with your needs. Also, in family law, it is very important that you feel comfortable with your attorney and believe that s/he understands your goals and what is important to you to protect for your future.
  2. Recognize that paying attorney fees is making an investment in your future: Finding the best attorney for your needs requires good understanding and awareness of your goals. If you don’t know what you want, you can never get it. You also need to understand your own personal strengths and weaknesses and needs to make the process less frightening and difficult. Consider the long term implications of skimping, getting by, etc.
  3. Stay Organized: Keep detailed records of all expenses related to your case, including legal fees, court filings, and any other associated costs. Staying organized will help you track your spending and make informed decisions throughout the litigation process.

Options for paying legal fees:

  • Do you have legal insurance or benefits through your work that can help defray some costs? However, just like health or auto insurance, your plan may be limited in attorneys and legal actions covered.
  • Cn you split joint savings accounts?
  • Consider taking out a personal loan separate from your spouse?
  • Is borrowing from family or friends an option
  • Consider your long term future vs short term emotions

Budgeting for family law litigation requires careful planning and consideration of various factors. By understanding the costs involved and implementing effective budgeting strategies, you can navigate the legal process with confidence while minimizing financial stress. Remember, investing in experienced legal representation is an essential step toward achieving a favorable outcome in your family law matter. At GordenLaw, LLC, we have the experience you need, reach out today.

Related Articles