Legal Fees and Divorce: What is reasonable?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

Many people call my office and the first question they ask is “How much will my divorce cost?”  The answer is, IT DEPENDS.  Let me explain:

When one spouse wants to settle the matter and the other does not, this type of divorce becomes expensive because it involves preparation for a full blown trial.  You or I cannot control the other party’s attorney or spouse.  That is why most divorce lawyers work hourly using hourly rates. 

On the other hand, where both parties agree to stay out of court and settle their disputes like adult business men and women, without the anger, without the vindictiveness, and without emotional complications, these types of divorces are certainly less expensive.  And less stressful. 

So what is reasonable?  In my divorce practice, I have settled cases for $3,500 up to $15,000.  The range is due to how long it takes to negotiate, how many times we go to mediation, and how many offers and counter offers are proposed until an agreement is reached.  If a marital settlement agreement is signed by both parties after going back and forth only once or twice, this will take less time and cost less than an agreement that goes back and forth four or five times until a settlement is reached. 

Going to trial is a different animal all together.  Preparation for trial includes depositions, subpeonas of people and records, much more extensive document production and discovery, testimony of witness, accountants’ fees, pychologist reports, employability studies of a non-working spouse, custody evaluations, business valuations, appraisals of real and personal property and the list could go on and on.  In my experience, fees and costs for trial preparation can run from $15,000 on upward into the six figures.   

The other factors that go into a determination of what a divorce will cost is the complexity of the case.  For example, a divorce with children usually costs more than one without.  A divorce where there are numerous homes and other real estate will cost more than one for a couple with only one marital home.  Generally the more “stuff” in a marriage, the more there is to fight over, the higher the cost of the divorce. 

Then there are the emotional issues.  Where a husband or wife leaves the marriage for another, this type of divorce can certainly costs more than if two people just decide together to call it quits.  Fighting over children gets expensive.  Hiding money or keeping control of marital funds while keeping the other party in the dark can cause the price of a divorce to skyrocket.

In conclusion, the price of your divorce depends upon the complexity of the case and the mindset of the spouses.  Hourly rates for attorneys in Palm Beach County, Florida, generally average from $300 per hour to $550 per hour. 

The experienced family law attorneys at my firm all work at $350 per hour (we accept all major credit cards).  For additional information, please call my law firm, Robin Roshkind, P.A., for a consultation (561-835-9091) or visit the firm’s website at www.familylawwpb.com.

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