While it's tempting to go with a cheap divorce lawyer who can get it done as quickly and as inexpensive as possible, it’s important to understand the associated risks so that you can be smart with how you spend your legal dollars.
Searching online for a cheap divorce lawyer yields hundreds of results, which is not surprising. Those who have come to the likely difficult decision to divorce do not want to spend their savings dissolving the marriage. Below I break down how hiring an experienced divorce lawyer with a higher hourly rate can save you time in money in the long run.
More Experience. A family lawyer’s hourly rate is often commensurate with the level of experience and skill that he or she can bring to a case. This means the cheap divorce lawyer may only be able to provide basic legal advice which could cause you to miss angles and actions that could help your case. While the hourly rate for a more experienced family law attorney might be higher, top divorce lawyers have the expertise to reach better financial terms for you in the separation.
More attentive to your needs. Cheap divorce lawyers often need to take on more clients to reach their revenue goals. Too many cases at once can lead to disorganization and the inability to analyze the pros and cons of decisions as they relate to your case. This also means the cheap divorce won’t be able to provide you with the attention you deserve, as they will be busily balancing communications with other clients.
A top family lawyer has handled many divorce cases before. They will be able to anticipate actions you should take and quickly provide the right advice. The result: more effective attorney-client communication leading to less communication overall, and fewer hours you are billed.
Fewer clients mean more focus. In contrast, some family law attorneys may be cheap because they’re desperately trying to attract clients. If no one else is willing to work with an attorney, you probably don’t want to work with them either - especially in divorce matters. Divorce is personal and emotional. It’s important that you can be open, truthful, and trusting of your divorce lawyer. The ability to work well together and tell your family lawyer personal information may increase your ability to build a strong case and achieve a better outcome. This is one situation where trust is surely worth the price.
Paralegals and associate attorney aid. Typically, there is a team of professionals behind an experienced attorney. The best divorce lawyer helps clients spend their money strategically by assigning portions of the casework to an associate with a lower hourly rate. This gives the client the benefit of the lower hourly rate with the guidance and oversight of an experienced attorney.
Achieve the best results. Perhaps most importantly, the best divorce lawyers usually get the best results. The best lawyer is likely going to have a higher hourly rate but you shouldn’t automatically disregard that “higher-priced” attorney. Paying a higher cost on an hourly basis could actually save you a lot of money over time. Experienced divorce lawyers are likely to be more efficient, and therefore can achieve success on your case while spending less time on it. Thus the client is only paying a fraction of the hourly rate when compared to the expense they may incur getting the cheaper divorce lawyer more up to speed.
A cheap divorce lawyer isn’t always the best or most cost-effective solution. When you add up the sum of what you received in terms of experience, attention, communication, efficiency, and results, the small number becomes a big negative that can quickly impact the outcome of the divorce terms and proceedings.
The information above is general: we recommend that you consult a family law attorney regarding your specific circumstances. The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.
Melissa M. Boyd is certified as a Family Law Arbitrator by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.