FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY COST & PAYMENT PLAN OPTION
HOW MUCH DOES A FAMILY LAW CASE COST?
We only bill clients for time spent actually working on their case. Whether the work is for court appearances, meetings, telephone calls, drafting documents, or any other case related task. How much work/time will be required on any case is impossible to predict because it depends on what happens in the future.
If we can come to agreements without multiple court appearances or lots of disputes, then less work is required, which means less of a cost. If agreements cannot be reached, then more work is likely required, which means more of a cost.
HOW DO YOU PAY US FOR OUR SERVICES?
Because we can’t predict how much actual work will be required on any case, we cannot predict how much the total cost of any case will be. As a result, we must work on a retainer basis. A retainer is a deposit that all new clients pay when hiring an attorney. That deposit is put into a Trust Bank Account and held in the name of the client. The deposit amount required is based on a case by case analysis and will be provided to the client during their free consultation.
As we do work on the case, we withdraw from the client’s Trust Account once a month for the time spent working on the case that month. The client will receive a monthly billing statement that shows what work was done, by which employee, how much time was spent, the amount of the withdraw and client’s current account balance.
As an example:
|1st month work totals:||-$ 500||Deducted|
|2nd month work totals||-$ 400||Deducted|
|New balance:||$ 600|
|3rd month work totals:||-$ 600||Deducted|
*If there is any money remaining in the trust account at the conclusion of the case, we will issue a refund check to the client. This is unlike a lot of other attorneys and firms that make their trust accounts non-refundable.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE RETAINER DEPOSIT RUNS OUT?
The client has two options to choose from.
- Replenishing Basis. Under this option, once the Trust Account is at zero, the client will need to submit another deposit and the billing system described above is repeated. The amount of the additional deposit required will depend on the status of the case at that time. If the case is almost done, the amount of the deposit will be less. If the case still has a lot more work to be done, the amount needed will be higher.
- Automatic Payment Plan. Under this option, the client will submit an initial down payment and agree to a payment plan with an automatic deduction from a personal account using their debit or credit card.
|The client may use the help of a family member, friend, employer, or any willing third party to pay the down payment and/or sign for the automatic deduction from their account.|
|The payment plan allows us to be much more flexible with a lower amount required for the initial deposit than the Replenishing Basis option.|
|We work with the individual client’s financial situation to determine the amount of the down payment and the amount of the payment plan. The more the client can afford to put as a down payment, the less the automatic payment plan amount can be.|
|The client chooses for the payment plan to be:|
|o||Once a month|
|o||Every two weeks to coincide with the client’s paycheck|
|o||The 1st and 15th of every month; or|
|o||We can customize any payment plan schedule to fit the client’s needs|
|Once set up, the agreed upon payment amount, on the established schedule, is then automatically deducted from the client’s personal account and deposited into the trust account.|
|The automatic payment continues to be deducted from the client’s personal account until any remaining balance is paid in full.|
|The client can always make additional payments to pay down or pay off their balance without any pre-payment penalties of any kind.|
|We do not do a credit check for the payment plan to be approved.|
WHAT IF I HAVE BILLING QUESTIONS, CONCERNS, ISSUES, ETC.?
Our firm employs a full-time on site Operations Manager, Sabrina James who is responsible for all client accounts. Ms. James is available to all clients, either in person, phone, or email, to discuss any and all billing questions, concerns, or issues.
WILL THE OTHER PARTY HAVE TO PAY MY ATTORNEY FEES OR WILL I HAVE TO PAY THE OTHER PARTY’S ATTORNEY FEES?
There are two primary reasons the court will order one party to contribute to the other’s attorney’s fees. The first and more difficult reason is as a sanction. In other words, the court wants to punish one party for egregious behavior or for a failure to comply with orders or required procedures by making them pay money to the other. The second and more common reason is based on a need versus ability to pay analysis. The court will focus on the income amounts of each party and the financial situation of each of them and determine if one party needs help and the other party has the ability to help.
COURT FILING FEES & FEE WAIVERS
When an initial Petition for Dissolution (Divorce) or Paternity is filed, the Ventura County Superior Court charges a fee upwards of $435. Other motions and documents that need to be filed throughout the case require additional court fees. If our client qualifies, we will file a Request for Waiver of Court Fees to help avoid having to pay these costs.