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Divorce Attorney – Client Relationship FAQs

Divorce Attorney - Client Relationship FAQs

WILL MY HUSBAND OR WIFE HAVE TO PAY MY ATTORNEY FEES AND COSTS?

The Court has the power to award attorney fees to a Husband or Wife if a certain number of statutory factors are met. Usually, this occurs when the incomes of the Husband and Wife are extremely different.

As of April 27, 2005 a new statute became effective in Ohio regarding divorce attorney fees and litigation expenses. Basically that statute provides as follows:

In a divorce, dissolution, or annulment of marriage or an appeal of one of these actions, a court may award all or part of reasonable attorney’s fees and litigation expense to either party if the court finds the award equitable. In determining whether an award is equitable, the court may consider the parties’ marital assets and income, any award of temporary spousal support, the conduct of the parties, and any other relevant factors the court deems appropriate.

In any post-decree motion or proceeding out of an action for divorce, dissolution, legal separation or annulment of marriage or an appeal of that motion or proceeding the court may award all or part of reasonable attorney’s fees and litigation expenses to either party if the court finds the award equitable. In determining whether an award is equitable, the court may consider the income, the conduct of the parties, and any other relevant factors the court deems appropriate but it may not consider the parties’ assets.

The court may specify whether the award of attorney’s fees and litigation expenses . . . is payable in gross or by installments and . . . may make an award of attorney’s fees and litigation expenses under (section 3105.73) . . . in addition to making an award of attorney’s fees and litigation expenses under any other provision of the Revised Code or of the Rules of Civil Procedure. Nothing (in section 3105.73) prevents an award of attorney’s fees and litigation expenses from being designated as spousal support . . .

HOW MUCH WILL THIS COST?

It is difficult to predict the cost of any action in advance. The total cost will depend on how many hours of work are performed by your divorce attorney and any other experts or professionals who become involved in your case such as psychologists, appraisers, guardians, CPA’s, and physicians. In some cases, such as child custody disagreements, business ownership or high asset related divorces, the total costs become very high due to the issues involved and the parties’ inability or unwillingness to settle.

WHAT IS A “RETAINER”?

A retainer fee is a deposit we accept to use for payment of our firm and for payment of costs as we work on the case. With our firm, any unused portion of the retainer is returned at the end of services. Some firms keep all or a portion of the retainer no matter what happens (even if you use them for only a few hours). We do not do this. We require that our clients keep their retainer at a certain amount at all times so that we always have a sufficient amount on hand to prepare for and conduct the necessary hearings or trial in the matter. Because of this, each month we pay ourselves and the expenses of the case from the retainer and then send our clients bills. The clients are expected to pay the retainer fund back the amount we have taken out so that the fund always has the same amount in it.

WHAT IS A FEE AGREEMENT?

A fee agreement sets forth the terms of your employment of a firm and should inform you of billing rates, the manner in which expenses are handled and the types of things for which you will be charged. Our fee agreement also refers to the retainer we will receive from our clients and discusses the manner in which the retainer amount should be maintained. All firms should use fee agreements with their clients.

WHAT IS A “FLAT FEE”?

Some attorneys or firms may charge a “flat fee” for family law work. We absolutely do not do this. We bill by the hour. We believe that each case is different and that each case must be handled and developed individually. Also, we know from experience, that it is difficult if not impossible to accurately predict the time and expenses which will be involved in a case. Each case is different and the ability to resolve or conclude a case depends upon many variables including the attorneys, the parties, the court, the experts and other events which are not controllable.