The answer often depends… Here are a few reasons:
- Like hiring a realtor to sell your house your lawyer must be:
- Competent and specialize in family law
- He / she must understand the local county “rules” and the judges. See previous post re: not all divorces are the same state to state and even within a state from county to county!
- Have years of experience with divorce
- If you have children your attorney must understand the rules related to Joint Parenting agreements, Custody Evaluations, Guardian Ad Litems
- You must have real trust in your attorney after carefully reviewing the above and then actually “listen and do” what he/she says or you will be fool that gets yourself in trouble by:
- Continuing to reveal too much to your X once the divorce has been filed
- Threatening your X in any way
- Not protecting your confidential discussions, documents, financial records, email, texts, computer access, files and other important information your X can and will use against you even if there is no wrong doing!
- Be prepared to not create a blizzard of non-essential documents, emails, and phone calls to your attorney!
- Work your counseling and other resources to “vent emotionally.” Venting emotionally to your attorney at $250 or $350/hour is not smart on ANY level. He/she is your attorney and while they may understand this is a very emotionally taxing time for you, they are your legal advisor and certainly NOT your Psychotherapist!
A few true stories:
A northern Chicago based attorney charging $450/hr meets his client at night at the Barnes & Noble bookstore to listen to her “vent.” At $450/hr you just go ahead and talk…
A woman given all bank account information and records from her X husband’s business just can’t believe there isn’t more money in the business because BEFORE the recession her X was very successful. Paranoia setting in this woman fired her attorney who she believed would get her everything she wanted in 3 months. Now the second attorney tells her “Oh don’t you worry…we’ll simply subpoena all the banks he does business with and get the TRUTH!” So another $5,000 for the subpoenas to several financial institutions along with all the charges for thousands of copies of statements, courier services and duplicate copies for her client and for the X husband’s attorney reveals the EXACT SAME DOCUMENTS the X husband had already given her in discovery! Shortly thereafter this attorney tried to use unethical pre-court tactics by asking for the parties and their attorneys to meet for 15 or 20 minutes BEFORE court, then when in front of the Judge this attorney lied by telling the Judge “your honor the parties have come to an agreement on….” when nothing of the sort had happened!
A man hired a high powered aggressive attorney that told him “no problem! We’ll take care of this! I know how to handle this and get you where you want to go! I just need a $5,000 retainer to start.” The aggressive attorney wound up insulting the Judge and lost his client’s case. Of course, there was no money left for hours billed in the initial retainer.
A man took the Honda Ridgeline new truck for himself when he left the marital home. He was not a contractor and did not need the truck, but it was new and left his X wife during the divorce with an old broken down mini-van which he refused to pay for repairs including brakes even though his X was a housewife with no career and little money. The X wife successfully had her attorney argue in court along the following lines. “Your honor my client has no way to pay for the repairs on her minivan which she uses to take the kids to and from school and their activities and has repeatedly asked her X to fix the van. He refuses.” X husband’s attorney argues “Your honor there is NOTHING wrong with the minivan, it’s a fine vehicle and my client is being asked for repairs that are not needed!” Judge “Well since there is nothing wrong with van, I’m ruling that you are to switch vehicles with your X wife pending final asset settlement.”
Finally, consider this. The attorneys on BOTH sides yours and his/hers has access in discovery to ALL THE FINANCIAL RECORDS of both your and your X. The attorneys on both sides can and do talk to each other on the phone without you being present! After many years of practice both attorneys have often “encountered each other with many other previous cases.” Think about it. Both attorneys MAKE THEIR LIVING off fees and they know what you and your X are able to pay because they have all the financial records. Will they recommend motions in court, tactics and strategies that lead to the least expense for you?
Source: https://family-law.lawyers.com/divorce/divorce-lawyers.html Average attorney fees for divorce were $10,000, typically ranging from $9,000 to $14,000. Nationwide, the typical fee that people paid their divorce attorneys was $250 per hour, but in metro areas, fees ran closer to $400 or $500 per hour.
The lowest hourly rate reported in our survey was $50 per hour, reported in Texas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The highest rates were $500 per hour in California and D.C. and a whopping $650 hourly fee in New York.