Flat Fee Agreements

Flat Fee Agreements

Flat fee rate agreements are different from hourly rate once because flat fee agreements include one fee that covers a specific scope of services.

The flat fee is typically a one time fee paid for specific services the attorney provides in the family law case. For example, if the client hires the attorney for the limited purpose of preparing a divorce petition and accompanying documents, filing and serving it and no other service, the attorney may charge a flat fee for that work. Flat fee rates are also common in cases where the attorney prepares paperwork for a hearing and appears only for that hearing.

The upside of a flat fee agreement is it brings cost predictability. There's no question what the total fees will be because it will not be more than the flat fee.

The downside to a flat fee agreement is the service scope is often very limited and does not include work outside of that limited scope. For example, if the flat fee includes services to prepare a request for order on child custody and visitation and appear at the initial hearing, it will not include other work such as the other spouse filing a child-support request for order and setting a hearing for that. It also would not include discovery, which is formal request for information, during the proceeding even if it relates to the upcoming custody and visitation hearing.

Of course, that assumes the flat fee agreement actually does not include these additional services. Most of the time, a well drafted flat fee agreement is very clear to the attorney and client what it does and does not include.

We believe flat fee agreements work best on simple cases where it is unlikely the case will involve significant other work outside of the flat fee work. For example, if there is already a divorce judgment and there is a simple request for order for modification of parenting time that does not involve complex or highly contested issues, that request for order may be a good candidate for a flat fee quote.

A client should always insist that any flat fee quote be placed in writing and/or a specific retainer agreement be presented to the client which lays out the nature and extent of the flat fee services.

The flat fee amount can vary significantly depending on the issues. We have seen flat fee quotes as low as $3000-$4000 and as high as $10,000-$15,000.

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