For the last five years, we have offered a flat rate for divorce and custody matters. There were several reasons why we decided to do so.
If any of you have ever been billed at an hourly rate for divorce, you already know how expensive a divorce can be if your attorney is charging you for every minute of time they spend on your case. The reason is that divorce and custody issues are highly charged emotional cases. They require a lot of time spent speaking about the issues and dealing with a sometimes volatile situation. Plus the court time and if you have ever been in Probate Court, that can take all day. Until things calm down, people need to speak to their attorney frequently. A very large part of the population cannot afford to spend $15,000 -$30,000+ on their divorce and even if they can, they are eating into the equity and assets that are going to support themselves and their families into the future. I bet that money would be better used on college funds than in your attorney’s pocket, don’t you?
With a flat rate, the client pays an agreed upon amount at the beginning of the case. Then the parties don’t have to discuss money unless and until there is a trial on the matter. At the initial no charge consultation, the attorney can get a feel for what the issues are going to be and how much court time and other time will be spent on the case. Then we quote the client a price and we agree on terms.
What happens if the attorney and client have a disagreement and the client wants to terminate the relationship? Well, in that case, the fee agreement requires the attorney to provide an accounting of time spent on the matter to that point and any remainder is refunded to the client.
There hasn’t been a single time in which a client has been billed a flat rate from my office where the other party has paid less than my client in fees!