Family Law, Divorce and Custody Lawyer Costs in Tucson and Pima County
FREE CONSULTATIONS: We offer free, 30 minute consultations for family, juvenile and estate matters. You can call the offices at 520-219-4040 to set up a time to meet with us, we can usually be available within a week. The best way to make use of your free consult is to bring whatever documents you may have, and a list of your important questions!
FLAT FEE MATTERS: There are only a few kinds of cases that have predictable costs, and those are matters that do not involve litigation. Wills, Trusts, and accompanying estate-planning documents are done on a flat fee basis. If you have questions in this regard, please contact us.
At Elkins & Associates, PLLC, we can offer lower retainer amounts with a “pay-as-you-go” approach to legal fees. This helps our clients keep costs down and avoid huge payments at the beginning of a case.
The total cost of a family or juvenile law matter can be impossible to predict. There are no “average”or “normal” family law cases and even trying to give an estimate of the total cost is something most good lawyers will not do. The reason is simple– we really have no idea what the parties may end up fighting over, and conflict, more than anything else, determines the cost. Therefore, a pay-as-you-go approach to divorce and other family law and juvenile cases works for everyone involved.
At Elkins & Associates, PLLC, we will tell you, right up front, what you’ll have to pay to hire us. A retainer is like a deposit on the fees and costs you will incur during the case. We set our retainers based, in large part, on the type of case, which court has jurisdiction, and our estimate of the level of conflict. We then balance that with an assessment of your resources, and discuss it with you before setting your retainer.
A retainer is sometimes sufficient your fees and costs. In most cases, however, the retainer is only part of the cost and may be, frankly, only a drop in the bucket. Our payment program allows clients to post lower retainers and pay a monthly payment for services as they are rendered and until your bill is paid in full. This arrangement spreads out the total cost of your family law case over a period of time. We will work with you to determine what your retainer will be and what you can afford. Remember, a retainer is NOT a flat fee. It is not a promise that the case will cost about that much. A retainer does not even represent an assessment of how much a case may cost. When you decide to hire us as your lawyer, you will receive a Fee Agreement that sets out your initial retainer that must be paid before we start work on your case, any other special payment arrangements you have agreed on with your lawyer, and a monthly payment amount you are responsible for until your case is paid in full. The Agreement also sets out all of the other terms of our employment. We do accept credit cards.
The Level of Conflict Governs Costs
Conflict is, plain and simple, the biggest factor in determining the final cost of your case, whether it’s a divorce, juvenile matter, parenting dispute or modification of child support. Keeping the conflict to a low boil and choosing your battles will end up saving you a not-so-small fortune in attorney fees.
In family law matters, parties often fight over legitimate issues where the two parties just see things differently. Parenting time for young children, in particular, is one of those issues that can be so difficult to resolve due to differing philosophies. Spousal maintenance payments are likewise troublesome since there’s no consistent formula applied to determine the amount. But equally as often as legitimate disputes, we see parties argue over emotional issues, using something else as a proxy – there’s still so much anger over someone’s infidelity that the dog is being used as a weapon to hurt the other side. Unfortunately, a party will also sometimes choose to use their kids as the weapon. When these “proxy”disputes arise, costs can sky rocket. Since the dispute itself is irrational, attempts to find rational resolutions often don’t work. Intervention by the court can be particularly helpful with these disputes; however, this assumes that the parties have the money for the effort and that the court is available to listen.
The art of compromise may be especially distasteful during a divorce action, due to the emotions associated with these cases. Yet there’s no doubt that compromise is necessary if you sincerely want to resolve disputes. There’s a saying among lawyer… “The best settlement is the one that no one likes.” That means that everyone has had to make a little compromise. Results are better, costs are lower, and you’ll avoid the anxiety and expense of a prolonged court battle. Take a deep breath and ask yourself, “is this really worth it?” Let us know the answer, and we will fight your battles as though they were our own.
The examples in this Fees & Costs section of our website illustrate the basic retainers our firm charges for certain kinds of cases. Your retainer may be more or less depending on the circumstances of your particular case. The best way to figure out your retainer is to set a Free Consultation with one of our lawyers.
One of the main things you can do to save money is to be prepared. You can organize your information or your lawyer can, but it must be organized for the court. Spending your time gathering the financial information required for disclosure, or putting together you documents and exhibits for a hearing will save you legal bills.
Have all of your paperwork together when you meet with your attorney. Show up to your appointments on time and be ready to make the most of the time you have with the law firm. Often, an attorney will base their retainer, in part, on how much work they anticipate having to do. Some of that assessment includes what type of client you appear to be. Are you disorganized? Are you late for the appointment? Are your documents incomplete or messy?
Staying focused on the issue of the day, instead of how it will “turn out” cuts down on repetitive conversations and therefore repetitive charges. The last thing you want is to have a lawyer lay out each and every option they can possibly dream up. When you’re being billed by the hour for the attorney or paralegal’s time, a drawn out conversation can add a substantial amount to your bill.
Scan Your Documents
Document management can cost clients hundreds of dollars. Copying, sorting, organizing and reviewing can add up to hours and hours for staff, paralegals and lawyers . One way to significantly reduce this expense is to scan your own documents and organize them with descriptive titles. Provide only the digital documents to your divorce lawyer on disk or by email, organized into folders. It will make their lives easier and your bills smaller. Also, we all know using technology make businesses more efficient. Law firms are no different. Their efficiency should show up in your bill (it should be less) and in their work product (it should be better). When you interview a law firm and ask if they prefer email and scan documents, listen carefully for signs as to how this will save you money – because it should.
Short Phone Calls
Since you’re paying your attorney on an hourly basis, keep your telephone conversations short — the meter is running. Avoid making several calls a day; instead, consolidate your questions and ask them all in one conversation. Stay focused. Ask yourself if you already know the answer to your question. Think about the value of the lawyer’s time in providing an answer. For example, if you call up the lawyer and have a 40 minute conversation about how much you really want to get the small TV in the bedroom, you’ve just spent at least $200 to try and get an asset worth maybe $75.
Also, it’s less expensive to talk with support staff rather than speaking directly with the attorney unless you have a specific reason to do so. Remember, you’re in control of who answers your questions and takes your information. If the staff can’t answer your question, they’ll let you know when you need to talk to the attorney managing your case.
There’s no doubt that using email is the most cost effective way of communicating with your attorney. People read faster than they talk, plus email tends to focus questions and abbreviate answers.
Help Your Lawyer
You should be asking your lawyer or your assigned paralegal what things you can do to help your case and save on fees and costs. Many tasks related to financial information gathering and the preparation of your Financial Affidavit can be effectively and more cheaply performed by you. For example, you can save copying costs and paralegal time by providing three, organized sets of exhibits for trial or hearing.
Unreasonable clients should expect to be charged accordingly. One of the most important ways for a client to reduce attorney fees is by making informed and reasonable decisions about the management of their case. It’s hard to think clearly in the middle of a divorce or other family or juvenile matter. So many emotions and memories can become involved in our decisions. This clouded judgment can sometime result in unreasonable expectations. And while some people perceive going to court as “rolling the dice” there is very little that is random about the law. It’s not as if the judge would give you 100% of the marital estate one day, and 20% the next.
Since the law is not random, and since many aspects of these matters are highly predictable for an experienced lawyer, you should really trust your lawyer when they tell you “you can’t get it”, whatever “it” might be. Certainly ask why, but once she’s explained it, move on. You can spend an infinite amount money arguing against a foregone conclusion and it won’t change a thing except your bill.
Avoid Court When Possible
Sometimes you have control over this, and sometimes you don’t. An unreasonable, or unbalanced spouse can often leave you no option but to ask the judge for help, but in those cases where you do have control, rest assured that going to a hearing will create significantly more expense.