Attorney's fee


#1

I paid a set fee for my attorney to handle my divorce, custody & property distribution. Nothing was put in writing (unfortunately) about what was covered.

We are into the property division of my divorce and my attorney just told me that if we go to court, then he would have to charge me additionally for that. He said that my case was extemely complicated (more so than he anticipated) which is why he’d have to charge more.

Is this ethical/legal? If we had a “set fee” agreement, can he change his mind and add more to my charges? We have only been to court 2 times thus far…and mediation 3 times.


#2

The attorney should have provided you with a written fee agreement explaining what the fee you pay covered, however it is not unusual for an attorney to charge additional fees when a case must be litigated.


#3

Erin,
I just found my “notes” when we originally discussed the attorney’s “set” fee…and another set of notes where the paralegal “confirmed” the amounts. I also had a witness with me at the consultation who also took notes and is a witness to what he said the “set” charges would be.

He broke the charges out as follows:

ED $5,000
Custody $3,000
TRO - $2,000 (My husband ended up breaking a court order & removed property when he was not suppposed to and I was told this would be handled when we got to ED trial).

So overall I’ve paid $7,000 for ED and I’m not even going to get a trial after paying that much money??? We did have ONE trial where I got “temporary” possession of my house and that did not take 2 hours at the MOST. In addition, I also paid $400 for a 50-b trial that ended up being dismissed so my attorney did not have to go to trial for that.

I feel that I’m being taken advantage of …and am very distraught and don’t know which way to turn.

We are currently in mediation and my STBX has told me that he’s not going to agree to anything…yet we are supposed to be paying for an appriaser to have ALL our property valued, I have to get 1 years bank statements at a cost of $5 per page (and I have 3 checking accounts and numerous money market/savings for my kids that I will also have to obtain – at a cost of about $300), and we are going to be paying for an “evaluator” (another $300=$500) to have a “mock trial” so to speak before we go to court. I think all of this is a WASTE of money and would prefer to just GO TO COURT!


#4

I really cannot evaluate the reasonable or unreasonable nature of the fees you have paid as I do not know how much work your attorney did behind the scenes, so to speak. The State Bar has a fee dispute resolution program which you can contact to help you resolve this issue.