Your Divorce – Family Law Attorney and Costs
Choosing Your Attorney
Getting married in this State, or any State for that matter, is a fairly simple and straight-forward process. Wedding details may get a little complicated, but overall it is straight-forward. However, getting divorced or dealing with other family law issues, can get get quite complex. The lawyer is attempting to untangle a web sewn by years of marriage. Assets have to be distributed, debt apportioned, custody, parenting time, and alimony/support issues need to be addressed to name a few.
You need to go to an experienced family law – matrimonial lawyer to advocate for you, protect your interests, and facilitate a fair and reasonable settlement. An experienced matrimonial-family law attorney is well-versed in all aspects of family law in order to secure for you the best outcome, either through settlement or litigation. You should be able to talk to your lawyer as if you were talking to a friend or relative, and he or she should not be in any way condescending towards you or make you feel ill-at-ease in any way. In fact, although the divorce process may be difficult, your lawyer should be a comforting factor, not a hindrance. Most people have enough intuition after an initial consultation to decide whether or not they are comfortable with and can work with the lawyer.
How Much Will My Divorce Cost
Every potential client has the absolute right to ask what the cost for their divorce or other matter might be. Frankly, it is difficult to provide a number to the client, without having the total picture. The lawyer gets paid for time and advice. Obviously, a contested matter which will require more time, will be more expensive. A rather straight-forward, uncontested matter, where the parties are in agreement on most issues will cost less. Further, going through Mediation or obtaining a divorce through the Collaborative Process will be cheaper as explained in separate topics on this site. Most well-seasoned, matrimonial-family law attorneys in New Jersey will charge between $350.00 and $500.00 per hour. Almost all family law attorneys will charge a retainer which is an upfront payment to secure the lawyer’s services. The time spent by the lawyer is then applied towards the retainer given. Most attorneys will charge a retainer of between $5,000.00 and $15,000.00 depending on the apparent complexity of the matter and whether it will be contested or uncontested.
In some cases, a disadvantaged spouse (the one not working or with the lower income) can apply to the Court at the outset of the case and seek counsel fees so that he or she can retain an attorney. It would be unfair for one spouse who can afford an attorney to proceed against the other spouse who cannot afford one. Thus, the Court’s will often try to “level the playing field” and have the party who has available funds advance the retainer or a portion of the retainer to the other party.