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Hiring a Family Law Attorney: Types of Legal Costs

The amount a family law attorney charges you for legal services may include the lawyer's usual fees plus additional expenses and costs. For example, if a lawyer will represent you in a divorce proceeding, you may have to pay a fee for filing the divorce petition or response, or other court costs as well. There are a number of costs that may appear on your lawyer's bill. Some lawyers may charge for these costs separately, while other lawyers may lump the expenses together as a separate item on your bill. Still others may include some of these costs in their fee. Be sure to find out before you hire your lawyer if these types of costs are included, and whether they will be itemized on your bill. Costs in addition to the lawyer's time may include:

  • Filing fees and court costs
  • Photocopying
  • Long distance telephone charges
  • Postage charges
  • Paralegal time
  • Messengers
  • Computer or research-related costs
  • Secretarial and staff time
  • Deposition and court reporter costs (including transcripts)
  • Facsimiles (faxes)
  • Experts, consultants, and witness fees
  • Investigators
  • Process servers (delivery of legal documents relating to the case)
  • Travel expenses

There may be other charges not listed above. It is a good idea to ask the lawyer for a written estimate of anticipated costs to make sure you understand the different costs that you will have to pay. For example, you will want to find out if there is a set rate for some costs (e.g., $0.15 per page for copying costs). If you are concerned about the costs building up, you can also tell your lawyer that any costs over a certain amount have to be approved by you in advance. You also may be able to negotiate in advance the amount charged for many of these costs.

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