Managing Your Legal Costs
For Your Family, Divorce, or Custody Proceedings
We understand that you may want to know the cost of legal services up-front.
This may be difficult to estimate at the start as it depends on a number of factors:
- The complexity of the legal problem
- The degree of skill and competence required to resolve the case
- The reasonableness of the parties in negotiating the settlement
- The degree of responsibility assumed by the lawyer
- The use of experts (such as business valuation experts, forensic accountants, parenting experts, etc.)
- Various alternative courses of action which may be taken (such as going to Court or staying out of Court)
- The urgency of the work, and time and effort expended
At Brown Law Group, we are committed to providing you with:
Transparent Billing Practices
Settlement-Oriented Legal Advice
What does it mean to retain a lawyer in my family & divorce mediation?
When you retain one of our divorce, family, or parenting order lawyers, you can expect professional legal advice and resolute representation in all aspects of your legal matter. This includes representing you during all communications with the other party or their lawyer, attending meetings, gathering financial and other documentation, drafting settlement proposals, legal research, drafting legal submissions, and going to Court.
We work hard to keep costs managable
The Hourly Fee
Typically, Family & Divorce Lawyers charge by the hour with the range in Edmonton approximately laying between $200/hr to $600/hr. Our fees start from $150 to $400 per hour. Students-at-law & paralegal services are billed out at a lower rate. In some cases, we may provide select services on a “limited scope” retainer, which means we will assist with a specific legal step or task, and not take on your entire matter.
Before taking on a case, we require what is called a “retainer,” or an amount of money to be held in our trust account as a payment in advance for services to be provided. The specific retainer in your case depends on the nature of your matter, the urgency, and whether or not there are immediate legal steps to be taken. You should expect an initial retainer of $3,000 to $5,000.
Family & Divorce Lawyers require legal fees to be paid in advance. After providing legal services and rendering a detailed statement of account, we then are able to withdraw funds from the retainer held in the trust account. Once the funds held in trust are depleted, you will be required to “top up” or replenish the retainer before further legal work is carried out on your behalf.
The Cost of Legal Proceedings
Legal fees can be financially daunting, but we work together with our clients to attempt to keep costs manageable. Often we have to pace the legal work over a number of months to keep your legal bills manageable.
You can reduce your legal costs by:
- Efficiently gathering and exchanging all requested financial documentation
- Focusing on settlement
- Being prepared to reasonably compromise
We know this is easier said than done when you are experiencing the turmoil of family breakdown. Our aim is to reduce the amount of emotional and financial suffering experienced by all parties during this stressful period.
Be completely honest and forthcoming
A lawyer can only provide good legal advice when you provide the requested information and the full story. We understand that some details may reopen old wounds; however, you have to be honest and upfront with your lawyer to receive the most appropriate legal advice.
Leaving out important relevant details and not being transparent with financial matters can result in a loss of trust with your lawyer and lead to the end of the lawyer-client relationship. Not being transparent can also cost you more money in legal fees trying to fix problems that could have been avoided, or handled more strategically with advance knowledge and full disclosure.
Gather all key requested documents
In any divorce, parenting dispute, or spousal support disagreement, you will be required to disclose financial documentation. A considerable amount of time and money on fees is often spent ensuring this documentation is gathered and processed. By gathering and providing 2 organized copies of these documents, you can reduce your legal fees. Below are some resources to help aid in this step in the legal process:
- The list of items required in a “Notice to Disclose” for a typical divorce
- The basic disclosure of income, assets & liabilities required in a divorce
- Your Monthly Budget
If you are initiating a divorce, you will need a copy of your Marriage Certificate. If you married outside of Canada, it may not be necessary to have the original Marriage Certificate from the country where you married. At the very least, you will need a copy of a foreign Marriage Certificate and, if not in English, then a translation as well. It is better to have the Marriage Certificate at the beginning of the process as we must ensure the names and other details are consistent on all legal documents.
Other key information to have available when retaining a Family & Divorce Lawyer:
- Your birthdate and place of birth, and that of your spouse
- The date your relationship began
- The date you began living together
- The date you married
- The dates of the births of your children, with their full names
- The date you separated
- The dates you moved towns or houses during your relationship
- The dates you purchased homes or properties during your relationship
- The dates of any jobs changes, maternity leaves, etc.
- The dates of any legal proceedings or previous Court Orders
Pick your battles
- Consider your legal options
- Listen to legal advice
Be settlement and resolution-focused
In any legal dispute you should be making rational choices, which often involves some degree of compromise. On a cost-benefit analysis, it does not make sense to spend $100 fighting over $10. Or even $100 fighting over $100. Especially when you consider the stress, the time, and the negative impact this dispute will have on your children.
It is our job as ethical Family & Divorce Lawyers to give you legal advice and strategic counsel informed by what is defensible in law and what is (in our judgment) reasonable in the totality of the circumstances. The legal process is unlikely to give anyone in a difficult family dispute the “justice” they feel they deserve. Most people walk away from the legal process feeling let down and frustrated. Even legal “victories” come with financial loss and a sense of having been dragged through some version of a hellish experience. It may be that the judges and the lawyers or the legal process as a whole disappoint, but more often than not, the source of the “loss” is the family breakdown itself.
We always try to do as much work at the front-end to gather the necessary information to put a comprehensive settlement proposal on the table as early as possible.
Consider all pathways to settlement
Before considering going to Court, there are many avenues to explore resolution of your family disputes, including:
- Negotiations, including 4-way settlement meetings with lawyers on both sides
- Mediation – with or without lawyers
- Private Arbitration
- Judicial Dispute Resolution (JDR) – mediation or arbitration with a judge
- Collaborative Divorce
Make sure you have a support system in place
Whether this is family, friends, a counsellor, or a Divorce Coach, you will need someone to talk to, to commiserate with, to vent, to cry, to rage! Your lawyer is an expensive option.
Brown Law Group is pleased to offer the option of Limited Scope Retainers in appropriate cases. Limited Scope Retainers help to make legal services more affordable for individuals who may not otherwise be in a position to hire a lawyer to handle their entire Family Law matter. Under a Limited Scope Retainer, you hire a lawyer to help you with a specific task, such as preparing an affidavit, preparing a settlement offer, or writing a legal argument. Limited Scope Retainers are appropriate in some, but not all matters. To inquire about whether a Limited Scope Retainer is appropriate for you, please contact our office to book a consultation.
We are committed to “access to justice” in Alberta. Because of this, we do accept select cases on Legal Aid Certificates. We believe that all lawyers in private practice should contribute to ensure those without the resources to afford legal representation on a private retainer basis have access to lawyers and the same quality of legal representation as others who pay legal fees on private retainers.
However, as a small firm dedicated to providing personalized client service to all our clients, it’s very difficult to take on more than a select number of cases on Legal Aid Certificates. Given our own limited resources, we are simply unable to accept every request for legal representation on Legal Aid Certificates.
Please contact Legal Aid Alberta directly to determine your eligibility for assistance at www.legalaid.ab.ca.
Alternatively, you may contact us directly to arrange an in-person consultation to determine whether we would be prepared to take on your case on a Legal Aid Certificate. Please note that our policy on consultations applies regardless of an eventual Legal Aid Certificate.