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March 2011

I have a simple Rhode Island Divorce why won't divorce lawyers give me a straight answer on the cost?

Rhode Island Divorce Question from Maralyn

Question from Maralyn:  

Attorney Pearsall, I've called six (6) divorce lawyers.  I told each of them that I have a simple divorce.  My husband and I agree on everything about our kids and that we have no assets or debts. None of the divorce lawyers would give me a straight answer on what it would cost for my simple divorce.  What's the problem?


Answer to Maralyn:

Keep in mind that when you call a divorce lawyer you are asking a legal professional to give you a price for his or her services based upon how much time he or she will spend on your case and how much time the lawyer will have to spend on your case.  You are asking for this price without the divorce attorney being able to sit with you, hear about your marriage, ask all the important questions divorce lawyers ask, and allow the divorce attorney to evaluate whether in his or her professional judgment if it truly is a "simple" divorce.

Some attorneys will quote you a retainer and an hourly rate they use for all clients.  Other divorce lawyers in Rhode Island will quote you a flate rate.  Experienced divorce lawyers usually don't quote a flat rate simply by a telephone call because they may force themselves into a situation where your divorce gets out of control and require countless court appearances, arguments, motions, discovery, and other documents despite what you may both have thought was a "simple" divorce.  In the end the lawyer could end up making minimum wage on your case or worse.... take a loss.

Remember what you are asking for is not something on a menu like ordering a burger and fries at McDonalds.  Every divorce is different. 19 out 20 people who have asked me for these quotes and I can't give it to them.  Quotes for legal cases are based on the amount of time a lawyer expects to spend on a case and how difficult it will be.

You're having so much difficulty because you're thinking its easy to give you a price and that we all have price rates for simple and uncontested divorce based on how many kids you have, assets you have, or issues you have.  It doesn't work that way.  Divorce lawyers don't have check lists that we can go through and know how much time your case may take.

Honestly, it's not realistic to call and get a set rate from an attorney on the total cost of your divorce over the phone.  That would be similar to telling an electrician that you simply need your entire house rewired and asking the electrician to give you a total price over the phone for his services.  To expect that the electrician could give you such a price without looking over the situation at length and give you a quote after asking the pertinent questions and analyzing the situation, right?  Then how can you expect a Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer to do anything different?

This is precisely why I require a 1 hour Session with each person who comes to me for $135.00 to cover my time and expenses and then provide a quote specific to each person based upon that meeting within a day or two after that meeting.  Every case is different, so every quote is different.  It's just common sense..  

It makes me wonder why other attorneys haven't been doing this.  Seems as though I am the only Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer who has made this logical leap in the best interests of my clients.

All in all I hope this answers your question Maralyn.  There usually is no "one size fits all" price for a Simple Rhode Island Divorce... and if you do get one, it may be the best price... but what are the lawyer's qualifications.  Finding the cheapest lawyer isn't always the best thing for anyone.

Caveat Emptor!  Let the buyer beware!


Authored By:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Attorney-at-Law

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