The average cost for a domestic violence lawyer is $300 an hour. Hiring a domestic violence lawyer for representation, you will likely spend between $250 and $450 per hour. The price may vary greatly by region (and even by zip code). View our local domestic violence lawyers or get free estimates from lawyers near you.
The term domestic violence covers a variety of types of abuse, including physical, sexual, verbal, and psychological. If you are the victim of any type of domestic violence and you need immediate help, please call 9-1-1 immediately.
The legal system in your state usually handles domestic violence cases in the criminal or family law court systems, and an attorney can get you the help you need to protect you and your family. Alternatively, if you have been accused of domestic violence, the cost of not hiring legal help could end up costing far more in the form of fines, jail time, rehab, mandated weekly classes, probation, loss of child custody or visitation, loss of gun ownership, and the inability to get a job or housing, if convicted.
The cost per hour will ultimately depend on the experience of your lawyer, his or her area of law practice, the size and prestige of the law firm, and the complexity of the case—if it includes criminal charges, paternity rights, divorce, and/or child custody and visitation. While a single lawyer will cost less, a firm’s wealth of resources, networks, and partners with varying experience in other cases could be the better choice. Sample costs from around the country include:
Some attorneys charge for the initial 20-30-minute consultation rather than give you the opportunity to talk and see if they are a good fit for you at no charge. Some attorneys that offer a free consultation are: Lowendick Law Firm in Lawrenceville, GA, who has been providing legal services to clients for over thirty years, and he has “held a preeminent AV peer review rating for more than twenty-five years. This is the highest legal skill and ethics rating attainable.” Towland Law Firm in Indianapolis, IN, who has over ten years of experience in family law.
Each state has its own laws for what constitutes domestic violence and what legal action will be taken for that. The attorney’s first action is to validate the evidence in support of the order, and then to file an emergency or temporary restraining order. Sometimes this order can be made without the defendant being present. Usually there are variations in the type of restraining orders one can get against the perpetrator:
- Do not come within fifteen feet of the victim—usually called a stay-away order.
- Make zero attempts to communicate with the victim.
- Move out of the home/communal property.
- Have limited visitation time with children.
- Cannot own or purchase a firearm—it is up to each state to enforce this law.
Once your immediate safety is taken care of, your attorney will then assist you with your next steps. Included in what you will address, once the protective order hearing has happened, are the additional charges you will file for:
- Divorce cost
- Child custody
- Criminal charges for significant violence
- Permanent restraining order
- Canceling or shortening a restraining order
It will also cost more if a felony charge is involved. All of the above require more time in court, with the final decision re the initial restraining order left to the judge, who will base his or her rulings on the risk of future harm, agreement by all parties, and hardship if the order isn’t lifted.
While most attorneys charge one price for everything they do, including phone calls, filing, court time, etc., others split the costs for their time, giving a lower price for the work a paralegal does on your case. For instance, Glasser And Associates, Newport Divorce & Family Law Attorney in Newport Beach, CA, charges $125/hour for the firm’s paralegal work, while a partner’s time costs $450/hour, giving, as mentioned above, an average rate of $275-$325/hour. Yanez & Associates in Orange, CA, specialize in family law and say “If the paralegal works on the documents, the client will only be charged based on the hourly rate of the paralegal, not the attorney's hourly rate. This allows the clients dollar to stretch.”
Attorneys, especially those fresh out of law school, frequently donate hours of their time to represent domestic violence victims. Some people are concerned their domestic abuse cases won’t be given the same level of attention because of the type of relationship they are in. More and more lawyers, like The Denby Law Office, P.C. in Natick, MA, specialize in LGBTQ/same-sex/nontraditional law. A “2015 & 2016 Massachusetts Super Lawyers Rising Star” in the area of family law, Gabrielle is involved in the Family Law Project of the Women’s Bar Foundation, where she represents survivors of domestic violence on a pro bono basis.” A search engine search for legal aid and pro bono services in your hometown will pull up all the local services that offer legal aid at free or discounted prices—many offering help for domestic violence victims.
Ultimately, the goal of any domestic violence situation is to ensure the immediate safety of you and your family, and secondly, to ensure everyone’s long-term safety. A good attorney will cover all your bases and make sure that end goal becomes your reality.
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