How much does a family lawyer cost?
Ashburn, VA

How much does a family lawyer cost?

Ashburn, VA

How much does a family lawyer cost?

$200 – $500 average cost per hour

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$200 – $500 average cost per hour

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Jennifer Carlson
Written by
Jennifer Carlson
Edited by
Tara Farmer
Fact-checked by
Kristen Cramer

Average family lawyer cost

A family law attorney costs $200 to $500 per hour on average. Some charge a $2,500 to $15,000 flat fee instead. A low-cost family attorney may charge less or take a 10% to 30% contingency if you win the case. A child custody lawyer costs about $150 to $400 per hour.

Average family lawyer cost
Fee type Average cost
Hourly rate $200 – $500
Retainer fee $2,000 – $5,000
Flat fee $2,500 – $15,000
Contingency fee 10% – 30%

Hourly rate

The average family lawyer's hourly rate is $200 to $500, depending on their experience level and the case’s complexity. Hourly rates are a law firm’s most common fee structure. Lawyers tend to keep track of their time in 6-minute increments, or 1/10 of their hourly rate.

This structure is convenient for lawyers but can sometimes leave clients more anxious because they don't know how long the case will take or how much they'll end up spending.

Retainer fee

Family lawyers usually charge $2,000 to $5,000 for retainer fees in conjunction with an hourly rate. A retainer fee is basically a down payment charge for being on call. Lawyers determine retainer fees by estimating how many hours they expect to work within an expected time frame.

Most attorneys monitor the time they spend on phone calls or emails and apply that time towards the retainer fee. If your case goes over the time covered by their retainer fee, you'll pay extra.

Flat fee

Lawyers sometimes charge a $2,500 to $15,000 flat fee for common legal services like a divorce, custody modification, or adoption. The total cost depends on how much time they expect to spend on the case and whether the case will require court appearances.

A low-cost family lawyer may only charge $500 to $4,000 for basic services like reviewing paperwork or drafting a prenup or an agreed-upon parenting plan. These services involve little to no negotiations or court appearances.

Contingency fee

Sometimes, family lawyers will work on contingency if you expect to win a settlement during your court case. This means you’ll only pay them if they win the case for you. Most contingency fees are 10% to 30% of the settlement.

This fee covers the time they spend on your case and the up-front costs they pay while working:

  • Filing fees

  • Making copies

  • Postage

  • Recording depositions

  • Travel expenses

Get free estimates from family law attorneys near you.

What is a family law attorney?

A family law attorney represents clients involving domestic issues and family relationships. They advocate for clients and help mediate in complex cases. Common cases or specialties include:

  • Divorce

  • Legal separation

  • Child custody

  • Alimony and child support

  • Domestic violence

  • Child abuse

  • Adoption

  • Guardianship

  • Prenups

  • Restraining orders

Family lawyer cost by type

Many family lawyers offer several different services, all under the same umbrella, while others only offer specific services for their specialty. Common family law specialties include child custody, divorce, child support, or guardianship.

Family law specialty cost
Family law type Average cost per hour
Child custody $150 – $400
Divorce $100 – $400
Child support $200 – $500
Guardianship $300 – $500

Family law attorney cost factors

The following factors affect the cost to hire a family lawyer:

  • Location: Family law attorneys in urban or affluent areas typically have higher rates than those in more rural areas. Washington D.C. has the highest average hourly rates in the US.

  • Experience: More experienced lawyers with good reputations and higher success rates tend to charge more than average.

  • Complexity: The more time, mediation, and court appearances your case requires, the more you’ll spend. For example, contested divorces or complex custody arrangements take longer than cases where there are no disputes.

  • Other expenses: Your lawyer may charge extra if the case involves contacting expert witnesses, private investigation, or hiring extra paralegal assistance.

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A little girl holding a teddy bear while her divorcing parents meet with a family law attorney
A little girl holding a teddy bear while her divorcing parents meet with a family law attorney

Other lawyer costs by type

If your case includes other factors or if you need help with a different case, you may need additional help from another lawyer. Most lawyers cost about $150 to $400 per hour. The following table shows the average rates of lawyers in different fields:

Lawyer hourly rate by field
Lawyer type Average hourly rate
Divorce attorney cost $100 – $400
Tax attorney cost $200 – $400
Wills attorney cost $150 – $400
Domestic violence lawyer cost $250 – $450
Immigration lawyer cost $150 – $300
DUI lawyer cost $200 – $500
Patent attorney cost $300 – $1,200
Workers’ comp lawyer cost 10% – 30% contingency fee

Family lawyer FAQs

What does a family lawyer do?

A family lawyer takes on clients who are dealing with domestic issues or need help with something related to a family relationship. This includes divorces, custody cases, adoptions, abuse cases, prenups, or restraining orders.

Do family law attorneys manage divorce?

Yes, family law attorneys can manage divorce cases. However, they can only represent one spouse during the divorce. Uncontested divorces are somewhat simple, especially with no children involved. Many couples can handle an uncontested divorce on their own.

Contested, litigated divorces are more expensive and difficult. Either a family law attorney or a specialized divorce lawyer can help mediate during disputes about assets, custody, child support, alimony, and debts.

Do I need a family law attorney?

Most people can handle simple court filings or name changes without an attorney. Otherwise, it would be in your best interest to have an attorney on your side for serious cases involving divorce, custody, adoption, or abuse. Without a lawyer, the case could take longer or have an unfavorable outcome.

How do I prepare to meet with a family law attorney?

Get free estimates from family law attorneys near you.

You can prepare to meet with a family law attorney by gathering the relevant documents listed below. The documents you need will vary depending on your case but usually include:

  • Bank statements

  • Birth certificates

  • Employment information

  • Mortgage data

  • Tax returns

Getting estimates from family lawyers

Follow these steps when looking for family lawyers near you:

  • Compare reviews of lawyers on Lawful and Google.

  • Verify their credentials and ask for their hourly rates.

  • Pick a lawyer who makes you feel at ease.

  • Select a firm close to you if possible.

  • Get a contract in writing before they start any casework.

Questions to ask family law attorneys

It’s important to hire reliable help for family law cases. When looking for representation, you should ask the following questions:

  • How long have you been practicing family law?

  • When did you pass the bar?

  • Can you provide any references from past clients?

  • What is your hourly rate?

  • Do you offer flat rates for simple cases?

  • Will I have to pay a retainer fee for your services?

  • Do you give free consultations to prospective clients?

  • Do you have time to take on my case?

  • How long do you expect this case will take to resolve?

  • Can you give me a contract in writing?

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