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When you make your initial appointment with divorce attorney, you should inquire about a consultation fee. Some lawyers do brief initial consultations for free, although most experienced divorce lawyers will charge between $100.00 and $200.00 as a consultation fee, or will charge their normal hourly rate.
For example, I charge a flat $100.00 consultation fee with no additional hourly charges, regardless of length of meeting. Essentially, consultation fee is to "weed out" those people who are not serious about possibility of hiring me. Given that my normal hourly rate is $200.00/hour and usual typical consultation takes about 90 minutes, charge for my consultation is significantly discounted. Therefore, you shouldn't let a consultation fee scare you away from interviewing a particular lawyer.
During consultation it is vitally important that you have a candid discussion with prospective divorce lawyer about fees and what you can expect. Typically, an experienced divorce lawyer will require payment of a substantial retainer up front, against which that lawyer's hourly rate and expenses will be charged. You should find out what that lawyer's hourly rate is, what up front retainer will be, whether any portion of retainer is refundable if it is not exhausted, and how often you can expect to receive invoices that detail their hourly charges and expenses. You also will want to know how detailed invoices are. Once again, this is another area where you can get excellent information from those people who have been clients of that divorce lawyer.
While all above issues are important, there is one final question you should ask yourself before hiring a divorce lawyer. Are you comfortable with that lawyer and are you confident in his or her abilities? If answer is anything other than a resounding "yes," you should keep looking. Your case is too important to entrust to someone who does not inspire your confidence.
Scott Morgan is a Houston attorney who practices exclusively in the field of divorce and family law. He has practiced family law in Texas since 1994. For more information see his website: www.houstondivorce.com.