What kinds of things do family law attorneys charge for once they're hired?
First of all, even if you've never hired an attorney for your family law case, you've probably heard that it can be incredibly expensive. This can be true, but it can also be very manageable.
Let's begin with what kind of things an attorney charges for after you hire him/her for your divorce or paternity case. The main thing an attorney charges is her advice. You're coming to her because she has some kind of experience that you don't, usually on the subject area of your case, but also possibly because she may be familiar with the judges and opposing attorneys in your area. These additional things can be quite important since the quirks or idiosyncracies of a particular judge can change the entire strategy of your case.
Further, if your ex has hired a bulldog to represent him or her, having an attorney in your corner who is familiar with the other side's tricks or typical mode of representation can save you time and ultimately, money.
Moving on, attorney's charge for their time.
This is sometimes confusing for clients. In Florida, family attorneys charge for their time when conducting in-office meetings with you or witnesses in your case, when speaking with opposing counsel, crafting pleadings, subpoenas, orders, letters, texts, or emails, phone calls with anyone involved in the case (like you!), but also including judges' offices, process servers, interpreters, court reporters, etc.
In addition, travel time is charged, whether it be for driving to a court hearing (and back!), traveling to a mediation or deposition, or meeting you on-scene if that's what is called for in your case.
While all of this 'time' can add up to a pricey total cost for you as the client, there are ways to reduce your costs. See my blog post on 'How can I save money as a family law client?'
And of course, if you are concerned about going over your retainer, contact your attorney's office to request an updated bill or simply ask how much of your retainer has been utilized as of that minute. If you get the run-around, it's time to look deeper.