How Much Will My Case Cost?
One of the first questions that we get when clients call our office for the first time is how much will our services cost. There are three main areas in a family law case that will cost you money: attorneys time, litigation costs, and filing fees.
Attorney time is the amount of time that the attorney is spending working on your case. This involves emails and other communications with you and the other parties in your case. It can include reviewing reports, documents you or the other parties have provided, motions that have been filed in your case, or reviewing your case’s history. Attorney time involves whatever your team thinks is necessary to advocate for your desired outcomes.
Litigation costs can include the cost of witness testimony, subpoena costs, transcript fees, mediation expenses, expert evaluations or testimony, services fees when a process server has to serve documents for us, the cost of printing extensive exhibits, and other expenses that your legal team deems necessary for your case.
Filing fees can be very expensive. As attorneys we have to electronically file documents into your case. If the other person is not represented by an attorney, then it is generally under $20 per filing. If the other person is represented by an attorney this cost is generally under $30 per filing.
At Alexander & Ewert, LLC., we have three “tiers” of representation that we offer: full representation, legal coaching, and a hybrid of the two. Full representation requires a larger retainer upfront which is billed against monthly and either replenished periodically or is followed by a payment plan that usually begins between 45 and 60 days after your initial retainer is paid. Our hourly rates vary from $150 to $275 depending on the matter type, complexity, and needs of the client. Our retainers start around $3,500 and go up from there – this is determined during the consultation.
How do I hire the firm?
First things first: you will need to determine how do you want to work with us. We offer three different options for services for our clients: full representation, legal coaching, and the hybrid of the two.
Full representation is where we step into the drivers seat for you. We handle the heavy lifting. We prepare the strategy for your case, we determine whether we need discovery, we generally determine what evidence to provide to the court to reach your goals. We work with clients to gather the information that we need to move your case through the court.
With legal coaching, we teach our clients how to represent themselves. We help with understanding the law, how to create effective strategies, and can help draft and review documents. This is by appointment only. It is offered as a pay-as-you-go service – clients only pay for what they need based on the hourly rate of $250 per hour. We only ask for a $500 retainer if clients want to be able to ask questions by phone or email outside of pre-scheduled appointments.
Our hybrid allows clients to follow the legal coaching model, but have us step in to do more complex hearings for clients with a reduced retainer. We are able to flat fee some of the types of hearings such as restrictions of parenting time, protection orders and temporary orders. With a flat fee, you pay a pre-determined amount for your attorney fees (including support staff time) – they do not include expenses.
We also offer unbundled services which are similar to legal coaching. We are able to assist you in drafting of documents, providing legal advice, assisting with hearing preparation, or single court appearances.
General Retainer Rates:
*Retainers vary depending on case type and complexity. These are intended to be an idea of possible retainers for different case types. Alexander & Ewert LLC. reserves the right to adjust the retainer quote depending on your cases needs. We are often willing to combine retainers when there are multiple case types. The retainer determination is exclusively the right of Alexander & Ewert LLC. to determine.
Initial Divorce and Custody matters:
$3,750 is the general initial retainer for dissolution matters. This covers the initial filing fess which range from $116 to $230.
Custody or Support Modification Matters:
$3,500 is the general initial retainer for cases that are changing parenting time, child support or making changes to your separation agreement. This covers the initial filing fess which range from $70 to $235.
Dependency and Neglect Representation:
$3,000 is the general initial retainer for cases that involve allegations that a child is abused or neglected. This includes representing parents, grandparents and other family members, and foster parents.
$2,250 is the flat fee that are able to charge for temporary orders. This does not include expenses such as filing fees, witness fees, copy costs, etc.
Motion to Restrict Parenting Time and Protection Orders:
$2,700 is the flat fee that are able to charge for Emergency Hearings. This does not include expenses such as filing fees, witness fees, copy costs, etc.
$8,500 is the general initial retainer for domestic relations appeals and dependency and neglect appeals. We do not pay for the transcripts or the superceadas bond.
Hourly Rates, Billing Intervals, and Invoicing Frequency
At Alexander & Ewert, we pride ourselves on transparency. We are not able to explain exactly how much your case will cost on the internet because each case is unique – with their own challenges. With that being said, we want our clients to understand how our billing system works.
The attorneys will all bill the same hourly rate on your case. Our hourly rates depend on your case type. They range from $150 up to $275. The typical hourly rate for all three attorneys is $250 per hour. In certain circumstances they will decrease their hourly rate or have to increase the hourly rate depending on your unique circumstances – which are more often related to your role in the case. For example, if you are a grandparent in a dependency and neglect matter, then we are likely going to decrease the hourly rate. Whereas if you are a parent in a dissolution of marriage matter with kids that chooses to utilize our legal financing option, you may be asked to pay the hourly rate of $275 to cover the financing costs. Most of the time, our hourly rate will be $250 per hour. Our legal assistant is billed at rate of $50 per hour and our paralegal bills at the rate of $75 per hour.
All of our team members bill at the same intervals – a tenth of an hour. That means that we charge based on every six minutes. For the time spent from 0 to six minutes would be a .1 – or $25 at the hourly rate of $250 per hour.
Our billing cycles run from the beginning of the month through the end of the month. We finalize and send out invoices at the end of the month following the end of that cycle. For example, you will receive the invoice for work performed in January at the end of February. The reason for this is that we often have to wait on the companies that we work with to send us their invoices for the same time period.
Many clients want to know how much their case will cost in total, and unfortunately, we don’t know. The average cost for an initial case – custody or divorce – is $8,000 to $12,000.; the average cost of a modification matter is between $5,000 and $8,000. Keep in mind that this is an average. Some cases will cost substantially less, others substantially more. Some things that will drive costs up are not responding to communications from the office, not getting materials to the team by the deadline that you are given, not getting all of the materials that the team asks for, failing to follow advice, and the list goes on. Some of the things you can control; others (like how the other party will respond) you cannot control. We work very hard to come up with affordable funding options for our clients to cover these costs.
Can I get help with my legal fees?
Many client want to know how they can get help with paying their legal fees. There are several ways:
- You can ask friends and family to help pay some or all of your fees. There are special rules that we have to follow when doing this. Ask us for more information.
- You can take out a loan from a lending institution, or friends and family. Remember to always put the terms of the loan in writing at the time that the loan is made so that the Court does not impute that money to you as gift income. Ask us to explain more about how to accomplish this.
- You are able to ask the court for a Rose hearing. In Colorado, there was a case that came out in 2006 – In Re Marriage of Rose. In that case the court of appeals held that trial courts have the authority under § 14-10-119, C.R.S. to order a party to advance the payment of prospective attorney fees and costs of the other party during a dissolution action, particularly where the parties have widely disparate financial resources. READ MORE HERE.