Hello, I am Daphna Schwartz of the Feldstein Family Law Group. Today I will be discussing with you estimates on legal fees and the length of time to deal with your family law matter.
One of the most common questions lawyers receive from clients at our initial consultations are: how long will my matter take to complete and how much will it cost me?
These are both valid questions and concerns because clients want to have a realistic expectation with respect to how long it will take and how much it will cost so that they can plan and budget accordingly.
Unfortunately, there may be no realistic way for your lawyer to estimate how long your matter will take or how much it will cost in legal fees.
The reason for this is that there are factors and circumstances outside of your lawyer’s control. For example, your lawyer cannot control your spouse or your spouse’s lawyer and cannot know the level of cooperation or delay that can be expected of them.
Furthermore, at your initial consultation, your lawyer is only aware of those issues and facts you have related to him or her at that time. At this point in the process, your lawyer is unaware of any issues and facts that may be raised by your spouse and his or her lawyer. As a result, at this point, your lawyer does not have a complete picture of the entire matter.
Moreover, as often happens in family law matters, new issues and facts arise throughout the dispute that were unknown at the time of the initial consultation.
Further, your lawyer cannot control the court process if your matter goes to litigation. Your lawyer cannot always determine how long it will take to get heard by the judge on the day of your court matter. There may be delays in the event the court is running behind schedule, as can often happen. Consequently your lawyer cannot tell you definitively how long you will be in court on the day of your conference or motion.
Lawyers do not as a rule give estimates on fees. However, your lawyer may, from time to time, be in a position to give an estimate with respect to a particular step, such as attending a four-way meeting, drafting a separation agreement, or otherwise. Again, your lawyer can only be in a position to estimate the legal fees and time likely to be spent if he or she is aware of all of the issues and facts.