I wanted to take a few minutes here to explain what our level pay system is and why it is the best option for handling the financing for your divorce, paternity, or modification case.
First, family cases, especially “contested” family cases, are difficult for everyone. The process is hard on moms, dads, and kids alike. What makes this process, while necessary in many cases, even less enjoyable is the fact that it is expensive.
Family cases are expensive because they are difficult. They are also unpredictable. This unpredictability prohibits attorneys from handling these cases under “flat fee” arrangements (“flat fee” means the client pays one fee for the entirety of the attorney’s work in the case). No lawyer can predict with any certainty the cost of your case at the initial consultation, and the best family attorneys strain to avoid doing so, knowing they are likely wrong. So, what most attorneys do is some variation of the following. You pay a large retainer (thousands of dollars, normally). A small portion of that is considered earned for the purpose of securing the attorney’s availability. The rest is placed in a client trust account. From that remainder, the attorney starts billing at a given hourly rate (and his or her paralegals start billing, normally at a lower rate).
Here’s the rub: that money quickly runs out. And you will have signed a representation agreement that says the attorney will ask you for another deposit, to replenish the retainer. The attorney can, for all intents and purposes, simply name his or her price at this point. If you cannot come up with the deposit (more thousands of dollars), the attorney will likely withdraw from representing you and you will either have to start the process all over again, or represent yourself.
This has been going on for decades. And there has to be a better way. Enter our level pay system. Under our system, you still pay a retainer that is earned for the purpose of securing our availability, and you still pay the attorney (me) an hourly rate. But under our system, your retainer is only $500 and your monthly payment never exceeds $500, and you make monthly payments until: 1) your case is over; and 2) you no longer owe a balance. This is the best way to go, for these reasons.
First, you do not have to sacrifice the quality of your representation. I have handled family cases for three of my five plus years in practice, and I have tried all types of cases and issues, from custody to property distribution to paternity issues. I happen to care not only about the personal issues my clients face, but about presenting the best legal arguments possible in order maximize my clients’ chances of winning not just on emotion, but also on the law.
Second, the level pay system alleviates stress. As I mentioned above, these cases are stressful, on everyone, but especially the parties living them. Having experienced the unfortunate necessity of discussing billing and financial matters with a parent experiencing too much stress, I deeply understand the need to do everything possible to alleviate that stress. The level pay system we offer is the best way to do that.
Third, the level pay system is your best guarantee against the prospect of your attorney walking out on you halfway through the case. The scenario I described above happens over and over and over again. And while other attorneys may offer some payment plans, you only get to that point after you already owe them thousands of dollars, and the large retainer is still required before the attorney will start your case.
You can avoid that hassle. Under very few circumstances will a divorce, modification, or paternity case be cheap. And under even fewer circumstances should a litigant try to handle the case him or herself. It does not work. There is simply too much at stake.
So, while you must be prepared for the reality that your case will be expensive, you do not have to settle for the same tired fee arrangements that leave so many frustrated. We will start your case for $500, and your monthly payment will never exceed $500.
Keep checking back in, as I will soon begin a series of blog entries designed to give the reader some insight into the process of dealing with a divorce case where children are affected.