Retainers: In most cases, The Family Law Advocates, P.A., requires a “retainer” or “fee deposit,” which is essentially an initial down payment or deposit for the work our attorneys will perform on your case. Initially, the retainer is your money and goes into our trust account, into your general fund. We bill on a monthly basis from the retainer or other funds held.General Retainer Rates
$3500+: For most new contested divorces, child custody, paternity, child support, modifications, or similar cases. In cases in which a significant, contested trial is scheduled to occur, or will likely occur, within 120 days of retention the initial retainer may be more. Initial retainers may also be increased for emergency matters necessitating a hearing in a short amount of time. The Family Law Advocates will make an assessment of reasonable retainer amount in light of the complexities and issues pending before the court.
Hourly Billing: In most cases, the attorneys at The Family Law Advocates are working and billing at their respective hourly rates. Hourly rates vary among the attorneys. Attorney and paralegal work is billed in increments of an hour, based on the work performed.
Flat Fee and Unbundled Billing: The Family Law Advocates also offer unbundled hourly and flat fee attorney services. This does not include an attorney going to court or formally entering onto a court case, which would require a full retainer. Flat fee billing can include meeting with an attorney for an hour, for a flat fee, generally discounted to $150 for the first hour. Additional flat fee or unbundled services, after that first meeting, can include drafting of documents, such as motions, responses, or other documents in a case, for a flat rate or at the attorney’s hourly rate. The cost will depend on the job to be done and the anticipated time involved. Follow-up consultations can also be done for a flat fee at the attorney’s normal hourly rate. Other unbundled services that are not “flat fee” might include hiring us to attend mediation or settlement conferences with you, helping you prepare for court, providing you as-needed advice, or other services, short of entering onto a case and attending court. Unbundled services that are not “flat fee” are paid based on the attorney’s hourly rate and work will be billed in hourly increments, as would be done in a full representation scenario. At The Family Law Advocates, we strive to be flexible with the unbundled services we offer.
With unbundled services, whether flat fee or hourly billed, the attorney will consult or draft without formally getting onto a court case. In essence, the client pays as he or she goes, without being formally bound by a contract beyond for the piecework to be performed. However, keep in mind that with unbundled, flat fee or hourly billed services, that attorney is still bound to rules regarding attorney-client privilege and confidentiality.
Consultation Policy: The attorneys at the Family Law Advocates are always willing to talk to potential clients for a few minutes, by phone, for free, to see what issues they are dealing with and to determine whether they have a case with which we believe we can help. From there, the next step will be scheduling a consultation session with one of the attorneys. Our firm offers free consultations for clients who retain us to start or get onto a family law case. Initially, we require a $150 fee for a consultation. However, if we are hired, that $150 fee will be credited back to the client on their first month’s billing statement. If someone is initially just wanting to consult in depth with one of our attorneys, they are also free to do so, no strings attached, for $150 for an up-to-one-hour session. This fee is a significant discount off of any of the attorneys hourly rates. While some firms in the Tampa area offer a free consultation, many do not. With our consultations, the goal is to provide the potential client with a thorough and honest assessment of their circumstances. We believe there is value in the advice we provide and, again, the $150 fee will be credited back to clients who retain us for full representation in a court case.
Expenses and Court Fees: In a Tampa Bay area divorce or custody case, there will be various expenses that arise. This can include filing fees taken by a court at the start of a case, as well as mandatory statutory fees required by the court for filing various documents. The Family Law Advocates will generally pay these fees out of retainer funds or bill the client for these fees as the case progresses. Your Florida family law case may also require other expenditures, such as the cost for subpoenas, service fees for serving documents, expert witness fees, appraisal fees, transcript or deposition fees, and mediation fees. The Family Law Advocates will generally just bill the initial cost of serving initiating documents a new case. Fees for other types of expenses will be generally paid by the client up front, whether to the Family Law Advocates or whatever outside, third party entity that will be providing support services. These might include fees for experts, or for a mediator. Postage and long distance fees are also billed.
Billing Questions: At The Family Law Advocates, we believe in open communication with our clients and welcome any and all questions regarding billing, fees, your contract, or how we bill. In rare instances in which there is a mistake on a bill, we are always happy to discuss and correct any errors we might have made. We pride ourselves on adhering to our word on billing matters. Having collectively handled thousands of cases over the years, we recognize that family law litigation can get costly. As such, we are constantly assessing each case from a cost/benefit analysis standpoint, with the goal of efficiency and cost effectiveness. We believe this is just good business. We try to be reasonable with our billing at all junctures and to import logic and fairness into the billing process. We do expect compliance with the terms of the contract regarding invoices and payments. We also reserve the right, at the firm’s sole discretion, to make allowances in favor of the client in certain instances. Should you ever have a question about billing or your fee agreement (contract) do not hesitate to let us know.
Billing: Bills are generated monthly, generally between the 1st and 15th day of the month. Billing, payment terms, and billing terms will be as per the contract signed with The Family Law Advocates.
An important issue for many of our clients is the potential for an award of attorney fees and costs. Litigating a divorce or custody case in Florida can be costly. Although The Family Law Advocates, P.C. strives to be cost-effective and efficient, the costs of your case can mount. Fortunately, the Florida legislature has recognized the cost of litigating divorce, custody, and other family law actions by enacting various statutory sections.
In a divorce or custody case, the court can award attorney fees and costs to one party from the other for various reasons, such as:
An attorney fee award might be granted in instances in which one party violates court orders or judgments. Fees and costs might be ordered in instances in which one party fails to comply with rules regarding discovery and disclosure leading to a “motion to compel.” A court can also award “suit money,” which essentially entails one party helping the other with fees and costs. In those instances, there is generally an imbalance of income or financial resources.
Our legal team can help you better understand the kind of situations that warrant the award of attorney fees and will assess your case for instances in which we feel you may be entitled to compensation from the other side.Bill Pay Options for Family Law Advocates Clients
Retainers and bills can be paid on line, via the links below:
The Family Law Advocates also accepts cash, money orders, or certified funds. Personal checks are generally not accepted, though The Family Law Advocates reserves the right to make exceptions regarding personal checks.For More Information, Speak With Our Tampa Bay Area Divorce Attorneys Today!
When discussing your case with our firm, be sure to bring up your potential request for an award of attorney fees from the other party. Though courts do not always award fees, seeking them in your divorce or custody case may be an appropriate move to help with the litigation costs you incur. We can also defend you against a request for attorney fees.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us to discuss your case, including attorney fees.