How Do Legal Fees Work in a Connecticut Divorce?

Connecticut Divorce Attorney Meghan Freed discussing alimony in Connecticut divorcesWhen it comes to legal fees (and everything else) we want you to come into this with open eyes and a full understanding of everything that is going on, so please read on for an explanation of how our legal fees work in Connecticut divorces.

Different people have different priorities when it comes to divorce and their future.  There are three different ways to look at the cost of divorcing (or not divorcing) – monetary cost, emotional cost, and time.  When you think about your goals for your future, you want to think about time, money, and relationships.  Your present and your future are all built on those three things.  Click here to figure out how you prioritize time versus money versus relationships.

Today we are focused on one piece of monetary cost and opportunity.  It’s important to remember that legal fees are only one piece of the financial puzzle.  Some of the major financial items you will focus on include how property is divided, whether and how much alimony and spousal support flows, issues involving homes and any businesses, and child support.  Also remember to keep in mind the costs of not getting a divorce.

And with that, here is how Freed Marcroft’s legal fees work in a Connecticut divorce.

How Do Legal Fees Work in a Connecticut Divorce at Freed Marcroft?

What is Billing by the Hour?

If we decide to work together after your Goals & Planning Session, we will enter into an “Engagement Agreement” that governs how our relationship will work – including with respect to legal fees.  You should review it very carefully so you understand our commitments to each other and how they work.  Generally speaking, in most cases you will be charged for the time your legal team spends working on your case – or what many people refer to as “by the hour.”  Not every member of your team will have the same hourly rate, and at Freed Marcroft we allocate work so that it is done by the most efficient member of your team for that purpose.

Hourly billing means you pay for only the time we spend working to get you towards your goals.

Why Does Freed Marcroft Bill For It’s Time Rather than Just Decide on a Total Fee?

Nothing about divorce is “one size fits all,” including the legal fees involved.  That said, the reasons divorces become prolonged and financially and emotionally expensive generally look similar from case to case.  Some of the factors that impact the legal fees include the complexity of the assets involved, whether there are children, your spouse’s attorney, and how those involved choose to handle the legal process.  Billing by the hour means that your legal fees are tailored to your case alone, and you will pay for only the time we spend working to get you towards your goals.

More than anything, the level of cooperation or conflict that exists between the two people divorcing has the most significant impact on legal fees.

How Do Legal Bills Work?

We want to make sure that you are always aware of what is happening – even when it’s “behind the scenes” like preparing for court or writing – so our invoices containing descriptions of how we spent our time.  At Freed Marcroft we send our invoices once a month and often even more frequently.

Legal Invoices provide an update on your case — what’s happening and how it moves you forward to your goals.

What is a Retainer?

A retainer is an upfront deposit that you pay to hire a law firm. At Freed Marcroft, we take this payment and put it in trust for our client. A retainer isn’t an estimate of your total legal fees, it’s a deposit.  You can fund your retainer by check, electronic check, credit card, cash, or someone else can pay on your behalf.

The time your legal team members like lawyers and paralegals spend on your case plus court costs and fees will be deducted from the retainer amount that you have in trust.  All charges against your retainer will be detailed in your invoice, so you will be up to speed on what’s happening on your case and how we are spending our time to move you forward toward your goals.  No matter what, your funds will be in a trust account for you and remain your funds until we bill against them.

Any remaining unused retainer funds will be refunded to you at the conclusion of your divorce or our representation.

How Much is a Retainer?

Freed Marcroft’s initial retainers generally range from $2,000 to $50,000 depending on the complexity of the case. Most divorce retainers range from $7,500 to $12,500.

We will let you know the retainer for your case when we meet at your Goals & Planning Conference.  Retainers, like everything in a divorce, are not “one size fits all.”  Some of the factors that impact a divorce retainer may include the complexity of the assets involved, whether there are children, your spouse’s attorney, international factors, and whether there are any family members with disabilities, international components, and how those involved choose to handle the legal process.  More than anything, the level of cooperation or conflict that exists between the two people divorcing will ultimately have the most significant impact on legal fees.

Although you can’t control your spouse’s decisions, timeframe, or lawyer, you are in charge of yourself and that is very powerful.

What is an “Evergreen” Retainer?

A retainer isn’t an estimate of your total legal fees, it’s a deposit that is held in trust.  Generally speaking, when you have spent about half of your retainer funds, you will be asked to bring your balance back up or “replenish” your retainer.  As with everything, the specifics of this are contained in your “Engagement Agreement.”  At Freed Marcroft, you will receive frequent bills, so you will be up to speed on what’s happening on your case and can prepare in advance for a replenishment request.

All remaining retainer funds are refunded to you at the conclusion of our representation.

Next Steps

At Freed Marcroft, we have helped hundreds of people move forward to a better life.  At our first step, the Goals & Planning Conference, we start by working through these questions with you to help you figure out your goals.  If you decide that divorce is part of what you need to do to get you to the future you want, we can help you.  If it isn’t, we will support you and help you figure out what you need to get you there instead.

Let’s keep you moving forward.

Click here to learn more about our first step at Freed Marcroft — the Goals & Planning Conference.

 

Written by Meghan Freed