By Lim Chong Boon
Senior Divorce Lawyer at PKWA Law
Tel: 6854-5336 | 6854-5331 | 6854-3100
Divorce is a painful process, and is very draining on the client. That is why I will let my clients know about the fee structure at the very beginning, so that they can prepare for it mentally and financially. Here, I outline the two fee structures that are usually available.
Fixed fees – for uncontested divorce
Fixed fees are the most affordable type of fee structure for those engaging a divorce lawyer, and are offered by many divorce lawyers.
However, fixed fees are only available for uncontested divorce. This is because for an uncontested divorce, the lawyer can have a rough idea of the amount of work that needs to be done, as opposed to contested divorce where the amount of work depends on the actions of the other side.
What is an uncontested divorce? (from the perspective of legal fees)
An uncontested divorce does not simply mean that both sides want to divorce. In order to save on legal costs, the couple should also agree on the grounds of divorce, the division of matrimonial assets (if any), the child custody arrangements (if there are children), and maintenance arrangements, before seeing a lawyer.
What is included in a typical fixed fees arrangement
You should check with your lawyer to make sure that the fees are nett, and that they include filing fees and court fees, commissioning fees, bankruptcy search fee, photocopying and miscellaneous fees in addition to the lawyer fees. This will help to avoid nasty surprises later on.
As for the service, a typical fixed fees arrangement includes the drafting of divorce papers such as the statement of claim and the writ of divorce. It would also include a set amount of consultation time that the lawyer deems sufficient to complete the divorce process.
Different fixed fees arrangements
Within the category of an uncontested divorce, there can be different fees. Uncontested divorces that do not involve property and children are the most affordable because they are the most straightforward. If there are property and children, additional documents such as the Parenting Plan and Property Plan have to be submitted. There will also need to be communication with HDB where an HDB flat is involved.
Sometimes, a couple that agrees to divorce realize later on that they do not have an agreement as to the details, especially where property and children are involved. The lawyer may have to step in to mediate and find the best solution. In cases like this, additional consultation time may be added on to the fixed fees. If no agreement is reached, it may be better for each side to hire their own lawyer. Fixed fees would no longer be applicable.
Fees for Contested Divorce
Where no agreement is reached or the divorce is complex, then the fees cannot be fixed.
For such divorce cases, the first consultation is generally free. After that, the standard practice is to bill hourly based on the experience of the lawyer who does the work, whether it is negotiating with the other side, appearing in court, or drafting court pleadings. The parties can also agree on a fixed lump sum. Besides the lawyer fees, there are also court filing fees and disbursements (for things like photocopying).
Sometimes, there is really no telling how long the other side will drag the negotiation or litigation. What I usually do for my clients is to agree on a reasonable fee structure at the start, so that they don’t have to worry about spending huge legal fees.
OUR DIVORCE FEES
At PKWA Law, our fixed fees for an Uncontested Divorce are normally from $1,500 to $2,900.
- No one wants a long messy divorce. We try to make the process FAST, CONVENIENT and AFFORDABLE.
- We will take about one month to obtain your divorce (Interim Judgment). The Interim Judgment grants you a provisional divorce and settles all issues regarding children, properties and maintenance.
- Our fixed fees are applicable only if you and your spouse have already agreed to a divorce and all issues regarding children, assets and maintenance before you come to see us.
What does our Fixed Fee for Uncontested Divorce cover?
Our Fees for an Uncontested Divorce will cover all the steps until you obtain your divorce. It includes all our legal fees, filing and court fees and involves the following work:
– drafting of your divorce papers.
– drafting your settlement terms (if any).
– setting down the divorce papers for hearing.
– extracting your Interim Judgment.
– extracting your Final Judgment.
Contested Divorce Fees
If no agreement is reached, or if your case is complex, please contact us for a free consultation. At the consultation, we will be able to give you an estimate of fees.
PKWA’s contact numbers are:
Tel: 6854-5336 | 6854-5331 | 6854-3100
The writer, Lim Chong Boon, is an experienced litigation lawyer with more than 25 years of experience in probate, family and divorce law. He is a director at PKWA Law Practice LLC.