It is no secret that high conflict divorce cases can be very expensive. The typical family law attorney charges based on the actual amount of work they do on your case. The amount of money you spend on their work varies depending on their hourly rate. Most attorneys bill in .1 increments, meaning that for every 6 minutes they spend on your case, you are charge .1 of any hour. For example, if it takes an attorney 15 minutes to draft a document and their hourly rate is $250, then that attorney will charge you .3 for that work, or $75.
Most attorneys require an initial retainer of $1,000-$5,000. This retainer is diminished by the amount of time your attorney takes on your case. The attorney should be able to explain what will happen if there is either money left in your retainer (typically you get that back) or you exhaust your retainer (will the attorney require another lump sum? Can they do a payment plan?).
The amount attorneys charge for their services depends mostly on the experience of the attorney. Oftentimes, the more expensive the attorney, the more experience they will have. Consider this when you are doing a cost-benefit analysis of your options for hiring an attorney. While attorney A may only charge $150 per hour, he may not have as much experience as attorney B who charges $300 per hour. Sometimes, a more experienced attorney is able to complete work faster because they have worked on a lot of similar cases.
Of course, a less expensive attorney does not necessarily mean they don’t have the experience or know-how, or that they cannot do as good of a job as a more expensive attorney. It all depends on the situation.