WE OFFER FIXED AND FLAT FEE PRICING ON FAMILY LAW CASES
An important question that clients always want answered is how much their legal fees in a divorce are going to cost them. That is a hard question for attorneys to answer as it is often difficult to estimate at the start of a case the disputes that may arise between the parties, the number of hearings that may be held and their duration and generally how many hours the lawyer will spend on a case. What seems like a relatively simple matter initially can often explode into a lengthy, time consuming battle between the litigants.
Typically, our firm bills our professionals’ time on an hourly basis. Legal fees are billed hourly at the rate of $370.00 hour for our principal attorney, Bruce Stern, and $100.00 per hour for paralegal time. Our minimum fee in any given case is $1,500.00. If a case is set for a one day trial (7 hours of court time), the preparation time for that hearing or trial is typically at least one and one-half to two times the length of the trial. Thus, a one day trial may require a total of 21 hours of an attorney’s time (or more) to attend and prepare for that trial. Legal fees could exceed $7,000, depending upon the complexity of the issues that are presented at the hearing and the number of witnesses who testify. For a three day trial, legal fees often run between $15,000.00 and $20,000.00. And those fees do not include the costs for the myriad motions that may be filed before the trial, the pre-trial court appearances for conferences and hearings, mediation and discovery in a case. It is undisputed that legal fees in a divorce case can be substantial.
And, in Maryland, if there are minor children, cases are broken out and two trials are typically scheduled; the first to address the custody issues, and the second trial to deal with property and financial issues, including alimony.
Legal fees in complex trials can easily run between $50,000.00 and $100,000.00.
To help clients have certainty regarding their legal fees in a given case, we offer fixed or flat fee pricing on certain cases. On fixed fee cases, the payment must be paid at the onset of the case and, in contested divorce cases, the fee can be paid over the first four months of our representation.
We recognize that a flat or fixed fee arrangement may not be the cheapest option available to you and, ultimately, your fees if charged at a standard hourly rate may be less (or more) than the flat fee paid. We offer all our services on an hourly basis (with a minimum fee of $1,500.00) and our flat fees are designed to provide assurances to clients who want certainty with respect to their legal fees.
Our flat fees are as follows:
If you and your spouse have agreed to the terms of your divorce, we can prepare a comprehensive settlement agreement for you that incorporates your agreed upon terms, prepare all the pleadings for you that are required to be filed with the Court for an uncontested divorce and represent you at the uncontested divorce hearing.
Our flat fee to represent you in an uncontested divorce is $2,000.00.
The flat fee does not include the Court filing fee of $165.00, service of process fees or any other third party costs incident to the separation agreement and the divorce, including the preparation of qualified domestic relations orders or real estate deeds.
Representation at Protective Order Hearing
If you are seeking a protective order, or are defending against the issuance of a protective order, you may want an attorney to represent you at the final protective order hearing.
Our flat fee to represent parties at a final protective order hearing is $2,000.00. This fee includes meeting with the party to discuss the case, preparation of the case for trial, including meeting with third party witnesses, and representation of the client at the final protective order hearing.
Contested Divorce Cases
We also offer flat fees in contested divorce cases. Since divorce cases typically have two trials where the parties have minor children, our flat fees are broken down for each phase, custody and merits (the financial issues of a case). These flat fees are for low conflict cases, those cases in which the custody or financial issues are in dispute but where there is not a high degree of conflict between the parties. The flat fee quoted for a merits trial is also for cases where total marital assets are less than $3,000,000.00 and neither party owns their own business.
Contested Custody Case – Low Conflict
To represent a party in a low-conflict contested custody case, which includes a trial for up to two days, we charge a flat fee of $10,000.00. Our services include: 1) filing all necessary pleadings in the case, including complaints, counter-complaints, answers, pre-trial statements and motions; 2) representation at all court hearings, including the scheduling conference, pre-trial conference and up to three days of trial.; and, 3) all pre-trial work involved in the case, including serving and responding to discovery, including a deposition of the opposing party and defense of the client’s deposition.
Our flat fee does not include work relating to emergency motions, additional depositions beyond that of the parties, expert witness costs, court filing fees or third party expenses. If extraordinary work is required in a case, our additional work is provided to our flat fee clients at a discounted rate.
Contested Merits Trial
To represent a party in a contested divorce case (non-custody merits phase), we charge a flat fee of $10,000.00. This fee includes a trial for up to two days, the filing of all necessary pleadings in the case, including complaints, counter-complaints, answers, pre-trial statements and motions, attendance at the Alternative Dispute Resolution mandated by the court; representation at all court hearings, including the scheduling conference, pre-trial conference and up to two days of trial; all pre-trial work involved in the case, including serving and responding to discovery, including a deposition of the opposing party and defense of the client’s deposition.
This flat fee is limited to cases where the parties’ assets do not exceed $3,000,000.00 and where neither party owns their own business.
Our flat fee does not include work relating to emergency motions or matters, additional depositions beyond that of the parties, expert witness costs, court filing fees or third party expenses. If extraordinary work is required in a case, our additional work is provided to our flat fee clients at a discounted rate. Our fees also do not include preparation of any qualified domestic relations or similar orders required for the division of retirement assets.
Appeals to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals or Court of Appeals
We also charge a flat fee to represent clients on appeals to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals or Maryland Court of Appeals. Our flat fee for an appeal is $8,000.00. This fee does not include costs associated with the appeal. It is also limited to appeals from a trial of up to two days.
Again, flat fee arrangements are not for every client and we offer all our services on an hourly fee basis (with a $1,500.00 minimum fee).
If you Cannot Afford an Attorney
Legal fees in divorce actions can be extraordinarily expensive and not everyone can afford an attorney to represent them in their divorce. If you cannot afford an attorney, you should contact your local county bar association to determine whether you qualify for free or low-cost legal services. Many courts also have services available to assist individuals who do not have an attorney representing them.
If you have any questions regarding our fee agreements, or are interested in retaining our firm to represent you in your family law matter, please call our office at (301) 444-4660.