The cost of your separation and/or divorce usually depends on two factors: (1) the number of issues you and your spouse have to resolve (and their complexity) and (2) your level of conflict.
Most family lawyers charge on the basis of time spent on your matter, usually broken down into tenths of an hour or 6-minute intervals (0.1). It is customary for lawyers to provide clients with very detailed Statements of Account which will show you exactly when your lawyer spent time on your matter, and what they did during that time. The minimum charge is usually 6-minutes (0.1), but some lawyers have a minimum charge of 15-minutes (0.25). Your lawyer should provide you with a retainer letter at the start of your solicitor-client relationship which outlines exactly how your lawyer charges.
In addition to your family lawyer’s hourly rate, you will also be responsible for GST and usually for disbursements such as filing fees, photocopies, facsimiles, couriers, etc.
Often your lawyer will be able to provide a range of what your total legal bill will be. I would suggest that the level of conflict between you and your former spouse will better define your estimate of your legal bill than the number of issues you have to resolve – the more conflict, the longer it takes to get to final resolution. As you may have learned in my other articles, process choice (how you get to resolution) can often be determinative of your cost because the more adversarial you are, likely the higher the conflict you will have and thus the more your legal bills!
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