I try to do adoption-related work on a flat-fee (or modified flat-fee) basis whenever possible. I gather information about the case at the beginning and, based on past experience, estimate about how much time and effort it is likely to entail. Then I take a deep breath and commit myself to a total fee. I collect the fee and a cost deposit, put them into my trust account, and pay myself portions of the fee as we hit agreed-upon milestones (such as the beginning of representation, the filing of the petition, the signing of birth parent consents, the birth, the conclusion of various hearings, the submission of any ICPC packet, ICPC approval, etc.) If at some point the case comes apart, any unearned fees and the unused portion of the cost deposit are returned to the client. There have been rare occasions when I have needed to add additional fees (for entirely unforeseen, significant, out-of-the ordinary developments), but that is not at all the norm.
I prefer this approach for several reasons. It gives my clients and me financial predictability. It fosters a much better relationship with my clients - they can call me any time with their questions or concerns and don't have to worry that "the meter's running" - which also increases the likelihood that they will take the time to listen to me. It gets financial issues out of the way at the beginning, and then we are all just on the same team working through the process together. And it frees me from needing to track my time.
Although every situation is unique, my fees for handling adoptions on this basis over the past five years have typically been in the following ranges:
Independent Adoption - $4,000 - $10,000
Stepparent Adoption - $1,500 - $4,000
DSHS or Private Agency Finalization - $750 - $1,000
International Finalization - $1,000 - $1,500
International Re-Adoption - $750 - $1,000
Please note that these fees do not include situations where contested litigation is necessary to resolve the matter.
Michele Gentry Hinz
33035 52nd Avenue South
Auburn, WA 98001
(253) 740-0667 - 24 hour phone
(253) 322-4769 FAX
Michele Gentry Hinz
Washington Adoption Attorney
With a Personal Touch