Divorce Fees

EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2012: The Virginia Code provisions regarding the requirement for depositions (or appearances in front of a judge) to present your no-fault and uncontested divorce case has changed.

For divorces filed after July 1, 2012, the evidence in a truly uncontested divorce can be presented by affidavit instead of by depositions or live testimony. An affidavit is a simple document that we can prepare in our office that will make the process of uncontested divorces much easier and the costs commensurately lower.

In an uncontested matter, this will save you money and our flat fees quoted below reflect that savings

There are different types of costs in the various kinds of cases which we handle. The largest cost is usually attorney’s fees, which is what we charge for the work we do on your case. (See ATTORNEY’S FEE below.) Court costs are the fees that are charged by the court for the filing of the divorce papers and for preparation of various other papers (copies, subpoena requests, etc.) In contested cases, attorney’s fees and court costs are higher, and there may be other costs you may incur for things such as depositions, private investigators, photographs, psychological evaluations, guardian ad litem fees, and tax consultants.

Uncontested Divorce

Uncontested, 1 year separation, no agreement, no children, no support

Basic Attorney Fee’s Filing Fees & Other Costs Total Expected Fees and Costs Services (generally optional) at Additional Fees or Court Cost Initial
Retainer
$400 $84+/- filing fee $75 for VA service $75 for out of state svc + state’s svc fee or $75 waiver $609 – $659 Cases in courts which require a Commissioner or formal court appearance to take depositions (e.g., Hampton, Norfolk, Va Beach)
Orders of Publication fee = $350-$450; Restore former name = $75+filing fee; drafting separation agreement, if desired, or if required to pursue 6 month separation divorce.�
$250 +
Order of Pub fees within 10 days

Uncontested, six month separation with agreement OR 1 year separation with agreement; no children ; no support

Basic Attorney Fee’s Filing Fees & Other Costs Total Expected Fees and Costs Services (generally optional) at Additional Fees or Court Cost Initial
Retainer
$450 $84+/- filing fee � $75 for VA service $75 for out of state svc + state’s svc fee or $75waiver $609 – $659 If Separation Agreement drafted by DLC.
deduct $50.
$250

Uncontested, 1 year separation with agreement, with children – no support

Basic Attorney Fee’s Filing Fees & Other Costs Total Expected Fees and Costs Services (generally optional) at Additional Fees or Court Cost Initial
Retainer
$500 $84+/- filing fee � $75 for VA service $75 for out of state svc + state’s svc fee or $75 waiver $659 Above conditions; separation agreement negotiations or modifications; drafting of Qualified Domestic Relations Order to divide retirement pay; drafting deeds to transfer real property pursuant to separation agreement;� review of separation agreement prepared outside of our office to determine child and/or spousal support language for final decree… $250

Uncontested, 1 year separation, with agreement, with children & with child support

Basic Attorney Fee’s Filing Fees & Other Costs Total Expected Fees and Costs Services (generally optional) at Additional Fees or Court Cost Initial
Retainer
$600 $84+/- filing fee � $75 for VA service $75 for out of state svc + state’s svc fee or $75 waiver $709 If Separation Agreement drafted by DLC. deduct $50. $250

Uncontested, 1 year separation, with agreement, with children, w/ child and spousal support

Basic Attorney Fee’s Filing Fees & Other Costs Total Expected Fees and Costs Services (generally optional) at Additional Fees or Court Cost Initial
Retainer
$700 $84+/- filing fee � $75 for VA service $75 for out of state svc + state’s svc fee or $75 waiver $809 If Separation Agreement drafted by DLC. deduct $50. $250

Uncontested, 1 year separation, with agreement, with children, w/ child and spousal support

Basic Attorney Fee’s Filing Fees & Other Costs Total Expected Fees and Costs Services (generally optional) at Additional Fees or Court Cost Initial
Retainer
$700 $84+/- filing fee $75 for VA service $75 for out of state svc + state’s svc fee or $75 waiver $809 If Separation Agreement drafted by DLC.
deduct $50.
$250

Separation Agreements

6 month separation, no children, no support, no property

Basic Attorney Fee’s Filing Fees & Other Costs Total Expected Fees and Costs Services (generally optional) at Additional Fees or Court Cost Initial
Retainer
$350 (very basic agreement) Negotiations; redrafts; correspondence; client consultations $350

6 month separation or 1 year separation,� no support, personal property only.

Basic Attorney Fee’s Filing Fees & Other Costs Total Expected Fees and Costs Services (generally optional) at Additional Fees or Court Cost Initial
Retainer
$400 Negotiations; redrafts; correspondence; client consultations Add $50 for each additional piece of real estate $400

1 year separation, with children & child support

Basic Attorney Fee’s Filing Fees & Other Costs Total Expected Fees and Costs Services (generally optional) at Additional Fees or Court Cost Initial
Retainer
$500 – $600 Negotiations; redrafts; correspondence; client consultations Full anticipated fee

1 year separation, with children, child & spousal support plus retirement language

Basic Attorney Fee’s Filing Fees & Other Costs Total Expected Fees and Costs Services (generally optional) at Additional Fees or Court Cost Initial
Retainer
$600 – $800 Negotiations; redrafts; correspondence; client consultations Attorney will quote actual fee after initial consultation $250

Consent Custody Orders: Same as Separation Agreements + $250 to process through court.

Basic Attorney Fee’s Filing Fees & Other Costs Total Expected Fees and Costs Services (generally optional) at Additional Fees or Court Cost Initial
Retainer
$25 per Child

(click on the icon to read.)

The fees quoted above are intended for those clients who present with cases containing no unresolved issues. Please understand that the term “uncontested” is a term of art. It is the entire case that must be uncontested, not simply that both parties agree, for example, to be divorced. If your case requires more attorney time than a truly uncontested case would require, you will be billed appropriately. Your attorney will talk with you face-to-face, and frankly, about what your case likely will cost. There should never be any ‘billing surprises’ from our office.

The fees and costs quoted above are for routine cases of the type described. These fees are the total fees we actually charge in our office for the service listed. There are no intentionally “hidden” fees or costs that you will be surprised with when you come into the office. (For example, notary public or “court reporter” charges for ‘no-fault’ divorce depositions taken in our office are not “extra.”) Further there are no ‘coupons’ or other gimmicks (e.g., “$100 off”) to confuse you as to what our fees actually are.

We do not claim that we have the “cheapest” fees around (although we probably do in many areas). If you are “shopping around,” ask the attorney (or staff person) who is quoting you a lower fee about any additional charges that will be required to complete the case, or if more money will be due after the case is filed. Be wary of a quote that seems too low. Some offices have been known to quote a very low attorney’s fee, but when you actually discuss the fees face to face, the attorney tacks on “administrative” and “document preparation” or “rush” fees which you reasonably assumed were included in the telephone-quoted fees. Other attorneys quote fees so low that they simply cannot remain in business. We have been in business for over 25 years charging competitive, but reasonable, fees. We intend to remain in business for at least 25 more.

If all you need is the service described above, the amount shown above is all that you will pay. If we quote you a different fee, challenge us. If we have misled you, we will apologize, thank you for correcting us and happily perform the service for you at the fee stated above.

ADDITIONAL CAVEATS: Fees quoted presume that all parties live locally (i.e., on the Lower or Middle Peninsulas of Virginia), that we are provided an accurate address (for service of process) of the other party to the action (or that service of process is waived), and that one of the geographically local courts is the proper (and statutorily preferred) venue for the action. The fees quoted above may, nevertheless, be applicable to those living elsewhere, but that will have to be determined on a case by case basis.

<p>The fees we quote here presume (1) that you do not have any custody, visitation, support or property issues between you and your spouse or (2) that those issues exist, but you have a valid, written and signed separation/property settlement agreement resolving them with your spouse. If you have orally agreed with your spouse about the essential issues involved in a divorce, and wish us to include that oral agreement in the divorce, bypassing a formal Separation Agreement, we can do that for you. However, we will only accept the case as ‘contested’ (since it is not uncontested until we have signatures reflecting such) and charge the appropriate ‘contested’ retainer. We will also charge at our hourly rate for the additional work for inserting the language reflecting your agreement into the initial pleadings and then again into the depositions and finally into the Final Decree. You can probably see where we are going here — it is typically much cheaper to pay for a Separation Agreement before the divorce than to try to ‘write’ on ‘into the divorce.’ In almost every case it will be more cost effective for to you to have a formal agreement prepared by us and to incorporate that into the final divorce decree. You will also have a much more complete document, with the protections that only such an Agreement can provide.</p>
<p>Simply agreeing with your spouse that you no longer wish to be married does not necessarily make your case ‘uncontested.’ All of the other issues typically associated with a divorce (custody, support, property division, debt allocation, etc.) must be settled before it can be called “uncontested.” If such is the case, we can draft an “uncontested” separation agreement (if you do not already have one) and then proceed (at the proper time) to an “uncontested” divorce at the quoted fees. You may also take advantage of the uncontested rates if you simply don’t want our office to address these issues at all as you proceed through the divorce. (This can be very dangerous, and potentially harmful to your interests–talk with us about this.)</p>

The defendant in a divorce case has certain procedural rights that must be observed in order for the case, even an uncontested one, to be considered by the court. These rights include the right to be formally served with the pleadings in the case, the right to a reasonable period of time to file a response to those pleadings, and the right to receive notices of other events that might occur in the case. However, in truly uncontested cases, many defendants wish the case to proceed as quickly and smoothly as possible. To speed up the process, the defendant may be willing to sign a “waiver” of the rights discussed above and other rights which are normally associated with a judicial proceeding. There is no question that a bit of trust is involved, because notice of possible adverse actions is being waived. But if a party is sure that the other is trustworthy, and will not ask for anything more than a divorce (and, if applicable, the incorporation of a separation agreement signed by the parties), then the defendant might sign a waiver of the otherwise mandatory proceedings.

The initial retainer is that amount of money that we require to be paid into the office before we undertake substantive work on your case. Additional retainer deposits may be required as your case progresses. In order to keep our fees as low as possible (and pass the savings on to our clients), we cannot absorb collection losses. Therefore, before the final paperwork is submitted in your case, the balance of the fees must be paid in full.

The fee varies with the services you require. If yours is a contested case for which an hourly rate is typically charged, the fee is based on the rate set in the retainer agreement you sign with your attorney. Specific amounts are charged in six (6) minute units (minimum 1/10 of an hour). This ‘minimum amount’ comes from the fact that in order to stop doing one thing, attend to your issue, make a record of that activity, and then return to where we were in the other case, that usually takes at least 6 minutes.

Billable time includes telephone or in-office conferences, negotiations, drafting correspondence and agreements, drafting responses to counter-pleadings, scheduling hearings and court appearance.

A basic no-fault, uncontested divorce ‘fixed fee’ includes the initial conference; the preparation and filing of the “Complaint”; arranging for the appropriate documents to be served on your spouse; taking of the depositions (in Hampton and other “commissioner” jurisdictions, this is done ‘live’ in front of the judge), and preparing and submitting the final decree of divorce to the court.

Additional time may be required in your ‘fixed fee’ case that is not contemplated in the initial fee quote. For example, your spouse may decide to contest the divorce, or ask for spousal support or child custody, or for a different property division when you thought (and advised us) that these matters were resolved. Additional services beyond those contemplated in the immediately preceding paragraph will be billed to you at our standard hourly rate.

If there is a trial, the judge can order one spouse to pay some of the other spouse’s attorney’s fees. The judge will rarely order payment of the full amount. As my client, you are responsible for paying the agreed fees, and I will give you full credit for any payments made by your spouse. You have probably heard of divorces in which the attorney representing the wife promises to collect the attorney’s fees from the husband. This creates a conflict of interest between the attorney and his client, as the attorney might be tempted to compromise the wife’s rights in other areas to protect his fee, and it is strictly prohibited. If it appears in your best interest, we will negotiate and argue for your attorney’s fees; however, our focus will be on the total picture. Any discussion about the total cost of a divorce is only an estimate. Because we do not have control over many things such as what your spouse’s attorney may or may not do, we cannot tell you how much time your case will require (or how much it will cost). We are always sensitive to the amounts that we are charging to you, but the amount of time necessary to properly prepare for you case is really not within our control. (The amount of time we actually spend on your case can be limited by you and controlled by us, but the amount of time we need to devote to your case is quite another matter, and is often a matter of judgment.)

We require a retainer to accept your case and to begin drawing up the necessary papers. The retainer is placed in a trust account and drawn upon only as fees are earned. We are not in a position to undertake any case for less than the agreed upon retainer. We want to be your well focused attorney, and don’t operate quite so well if we are also your creditor. If the fees charged as we proceed forward with your case exceed the retainer (and eventually they might), we will expect that the fees will be promptly paid. We will not drop you as a client just because you owe us money, but do expect that a good faith arrangement will be made by you to see that the balance is attended to.

If you interview the attorney and decide not to retain the firm, you will only be charged for the office conference. If you retain the firm, we will sign a contract setting out the terms of representation in writing. Hopefully then there will be no billing surprises.