A family lawyer specializes in family law, an area of law that focuses on domestic relations. Family law rules vary with each state. Major issues handled by family lawyers include:
- Child custody and child support
- Alimony or spousal support
- Division of property
- Marriage, civil unions and domestic partnership
- Prenuptial agreements
- Paternity testing and fraud
- Divorce and annulments
- Claims for reimbursement for marital expenses (i.e. property improvements by one spouse during marriage)
How Much Does a Family Lawyer Charge?
According to studies, a family lawyer charges an average of $250 an hour. Although, this amount can vary significantly based on factors such as geographical location and the level of experience. Attorneys with high success rates and many years of experience can charge in excess of $650 an hour. Likewise, attorneys can charge as little as $50 an hour (although this may raise questions of competency and experience).
Attorney fees may be adjusted based on the level of representation they provide. For example, a family lawyer may offer:
- Simple consultation – The lawyer will listen to the issue and offer advice.
- Limited representation – will only handle certain aspects of the case. For example in a divorce case they will only handle the divorce itself but not child custody or visitation. This may be the case if the parties are able to agree on some issues but not all.
- Full representation – The lawyer handles all aspects of the case, from start to finish.
Finally, the cost will increase with the amount of time it takes the lawyer to resolve the case. However, a lawyer may also offer to take the case for a flat fee. For example, the average amount for a lawyer to charge for preparing a prenuptial agreement is $700-$800.
How Long Will a Family Dispute Last?
The length of a family dispute to be resolved depends on the issue. A divorce takes an average of 10 months. However many issues, related to divorce, are often times resolved without going to court. If the case goes to court it will likely take longer. However, a case involving a marriage or civil union may only take a few weeks for the attorney to prepare the necessary documentation, like a prenuptial agreement.
Do I Need a Family Lawyer?
Family issues can be very complicated and the laws can vary by state. It is important to consult an experienced family law attorney, especially if the issue requires filing papers in court of if extensive negotiation is necessary. When it comes to things like child custody or division of property, a family lawyer will help you achieve the best possible outcome.