Unless a lawyer is assisting you with an uncontested divorce, she likely will be unable to tell you exactly how much resolving a legal matter will cost. It is hard for a lawyer to give an exact cost because lawyers charge based on how much time is spent on a matter. The following factors may impact how much legal costs will be on a family law matter:
- The level of conflict between the parties. If the parties have a high conflict relationship and fight over the details of their matter, their lawyers will have to spend more time resolving the matter.
- The complexity of the legal issues. If a party’s financial situation is complex, it takes longer for a lawyer to figure out that party’s income and/or the value of various accounts. Complex legal issues may also require court applications to obtain further documents in order to get the party’s full financial picture.
- Court applications. If the matter requires court applications, legal costs will increase with each application to court. Court applications often necessitate legal research, drafting of documents, and compliance with other complicated court procedures, which result in more work being done by a lawyer.
- High volume of documents. If a party has a lot of documents to be collected or shared with the other party, document exchange and review can take a significant amount of time. The more time a lawyer spends contacting or reminding a client to provide required documents, the more legal costs will be. More documents relating to a party’s property are always required if a party waits for more than a year to consult with a lawyer.
- Frequent communication with a client. Because lawyers charge for the time spent on a client’s matter, they charge for all communications with clients. Sometimes clients need a high level of communication with their lawyer to understand what is going on and what their options are. Sometimes clients communicate with their lawyer about non-legal issues, but it is often less expensive and more time efficient to get another specialist, such as an accountant or a counsellor, to assist with those issues rather than relying on your lawyer. Your lawyer should always listen to you, but remember that if you are taking up your lawyer’s time, you will have to pay for it.
Family Lawyers know they are working for people at a time when finances are often stretched already and they know their fees can cause additional difficulties for their clients. Most Family Lawyers know it is better for a client to resolve the issues as quickly and inexpensively as possible while still ensuring the client’s rights are protected and the client is not sacrificing too much. Nancy Brown works with her clients to balance their legal and financial needs. If you have questions about legal costs for family law matters, please contact Nancy Brown.