What Will It Cost?

It's okay to be concerned about the cost of your legal representation. In this economy, there are very few people who don't need to keep a close eye on expenses. At the same time, you want to choose your battles wisely. Paying an attorney to protect your rights is a smart investment, but spending $750 in legal fees fighting over a $75 dining table isn't.

Here's some basic information about family law fees and costs, among Sonoma County family law practitioners in general and at my office.
Rates and Retainers

Most family law attorneys collect an initial retainer and charge an hourly rate. When you are looking for an attorney, you need to ask (a) what is your hourly rate? and (b) what will you need as a retainer?

Rates: family law attorneys in Sonoma County typically charge between $200 and $400 per hour. My typical rate is $300 per hour. Rates may change without notice.

Retainers: typically, an attorney will ask for a retainer that is enough to cover most or all of the work that needs to be done on your case. Often, a larger retainer is needed for a more complex case.

Levels of Service
There are a number of options in how you use an attorney. I tell my clients to think of these options like a box of colored pencils.

Attorney of Record:
 This is the most common and most traditional option, the one where your attorney handles everything for you. If an unforeseen issue comes up, your attorney of record will address it as part of your representation. (In this option, it's like you buy the whole box of pencils: you might think the light blue one won't get used, and if it doesn't, you don't pay for it. But if you need it, you'll be glad you have it.)

Limited Scope Agreement: Many family law litigants only need help on one or two issues. For example, you might want to modify the visitation schedule with your kids. Or maybe you need to bring a contempt motion for non-payment of child support. Filing a Notice of Limited Scope Representation limits your attorney to only the issue or hearing that you've agreed on. (This is like figuring out what colors you want so you can buy only what you need, not the whole box.

Consultation and Legal Drafting: 
Many self-represented parties choose to consult an attorney on an hourly basis. Have you chosen the right motion for your problem? Do you need a professional writer for your declaration? Do you want coaching on how to keep your cool in mediation? Tell me what you need, and we can proceed on an hourly basis. (It's like you rent the orange pencil for a few hours: select the 'color' or service you need, pay for the time you use, and go on your way.)

Contact us to find out more!
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