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Cooler heads prevail and spend less in legal fees.

In designing our new website, we spent some time analyzing Google.com adverting and google searches. A couple of the more common search terms relative to divorce lawyers in Providence were “Cheap divorce lawyer in Providence” and “Providence’s most affordable divorce lawyers.”

I was educated as an economist. I was taught about supply and demand and how human behavior influences buying decisions. Some decisions are not necessarily consistent with economic theory. Often, a decision is made to go with the least cost alternative, because ‘why pay more?’ Is there a difference between an attorney that charges $150 per hour versus one who charges $350 per hour? Besides the size of their summer homes, there often is. Attorney billing rates are a function of a number of factors, education, experience, success rates and location. In Providence, the average hourly rate for a divorce attorney is about $250 per hour.

But billable rates are one piece of the equation. Your total bill is simply, rate * hours worked. Hours worked is the variable you can control. One of the main differences between experienced lawyers at $350 per hour and those just starting and billing at $150 per hour is the experienced lawyer’s ability to control the case and control settlement discussions. Our ability to control the negotiations are dependent upon the client’s reasonableness.

I am asked each day, how much will this cost me? That depends. For example, if you come into my office and you have ‘worked out all the details’ of the divorce, then there is a huge cost savings. But if those details are not settled, or even close to being settled, well, that’s when we lawyers start the billing clock.

Your level of animosity towards your spouse is directly correlated to a large invoice. Recently, I had a divorce which had finally come to a settlement after two years. The attorneys had drafted the settlement documents to reflect the agreement. However, the clients could not agree on the language relative to the medical insurance. Both myself and opposing counsel agreed that the requested changes in language was a distinction without a difference. We explained the same to our clients and both sides would still not agree. After 5 additional hours of work, and the threat of letting the judge decide the issue, the parties caved and agreed to accept the original language. That dispute cost my client an additional $1,300.00, on the evening before the final hearing. Not coincidentally, the costs in many cases are blown up, not because the attorney’s rate is too high, but because the parties let their emotions cloud their judgment.

Consider the following to help control your costs:
• Take a deep breath before you read a text, send an email or talk to your spouse.
• Don’t react without thinking.
• Talk to a marriage counselor or personal life coach during this process. Having a neutral person that can help you focus on your emotional well being during the process is well worth it.
• Yoga, running and exercise all help to reduce stress and aid in mental clarity.
• Pick your battles and listen to your lawyer. If you don’t have a winning legal argument, you may want to reconsider your fight. Arguing over personal property while exhausting your bank account is not worth the price, especially if you may have some custody issues on the horizon.
• Don’t call your lawyer in the middle of the night (unless its an emergency situation). While we do not bill our clients for every 5 minute phone call, when a client starts to call at midnight or first thing Sunday morning, we may start to bill the client.
• Be reasonable. The division of assets is based upon equitable distribution, not upon who can yell the loudest.

There is no such thing as an amicable divorce. However, having that goal, and working on amenable resolutions certainly can ease the financial burden of divorce.

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Our Office
  • Providence Office
    145 Waterman Street
    Providence, Rhode Island 02906
    Phone: 401-455-0002
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