Sparks Family Law, Inc. is pleased to announce the return of our popular flat-fee divorce option commencing May 1, 2015. Attorney Gary Sparks was one of the first Northern California family lawyers to introduce flat-fee billing (also known as “fixed-fee” billing) to his clients back in 2010. As a result of increasing demand from our clients for flat-fee billing, we are excited to be able to reintroduce this option, effective immediately.
Many divorce clients are worried about their legal fees, and often lie awake at night wondering how much their next bill will be, or how much that letter, phone call or email will cost. Flat-fee pricing eliminates the uncertainty from the process, and gives clients the ability to know up front what their case is going to cost.
Under the traditional hourly billing model, a family law attorney collects an initial “retainer” (deposit) in advance at the start of the case — typically around $5,000 — and then bills against that retainer for every hour or fraction thereof. Then, when the funds begin to run out, the attorney collects an additional retainer, and this cycle repeats until the case is complete. Under this model, it is impossible to know in advance how much the case will cost.
On the other hand, under the flat-fee model, the attorney quotes the client a fee in advance for the case, and that fee remains fixed for the remainder of the case. To keep costs as low as possible, the flat fee is quoted based on the assumption that the case will settle without litigation or court appearances. If more is needed, such as filing or defending against a motion, preparing or responding to discovery or depositions, or appearing in court, the client is given a flat-fee schedule in advance that clearly details the cost for the additional work.
Flat-fee pricing represents a substantial value for clients, and simplifies the process for both attorney and client. But it is important for clients to understand the limitations of flat-fee pricing ahead of time to avoid confusion and misunderstanding (such as additional costs for having to go to court). The comprehensive fee agreement fully explains what is and what is not covered. But even the additional work we do is done on a flat-fee basis per the fee schedule provided at the outset of the case.
Under the flat-fee model, clients have the assurance of knowing that everything necessary will be done to move their case forward, and that the attorney is not doing anything unnecessary to maximize legal fees.
If you are concerned about your own legal fees in a family law matter, consider the flat, fixed-fee model for your case. This will challenge you and your attorney to do everything possible to settle the case. But it is important that you weigh your options and consider whether you prefer the tried-and-true approach of hourly billing or the certainty and simplicity of flat-fee services.
Watch our website over the next week as we update our Fees & Services pages to reflect the return of our flat-fee pricing.