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Are there any pro-bono or contingency attorneys for family law cases in Sarasota county? Is mediation prior to trial mandatory?

Sarasota, FL |

Good morning. My child's father is seeking a major modification of our Parenting Plan, even though he has no legitimate grounds to. I have a restraining order against him. Is it necessary to go to mediation prior to asking his case to be dismissed? Are there any attorneys in Sarasota county that would be willing to take on a pro-bono or contingency-fee based case? His case is nothing but further harassment of a case that has long ago been settled.

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Attorney answers 5


Family law attorneys can not use contingency fee agreements. You can contact some family law attorneys in your area and see if any are willing to help you pro bono. You can also check with the legal services office in your county.

If there has not been a substantial change in circumstances, it is unlikely that his Supplemental Petition will be granted.

Please note that without more specific information, I am unable to provide a definitive answer to your question. Please accept my answer for informational purposes only and I hope it will give you a starting point in seeking legal representation. I would be more than happy to meet with you to provide legal advice in a consultation.


As Mr. Buckley said, family law attorneys are not permitted to work on contingency fees. Why would you expect an attorney to work pro bono? Does your job ask you to work for free? Does the fsther's petition state the substantial change of circumstances for why he wants a change? If not, file a motion to dismiss. If he does state a substantial change of circumstances (it may not be true, but it has to be stated), set your case for mediation.

The contents of this answer should be considered friendly advice, not legal advice (I'm a pretty friendly guy), and the answer should not be construed to constitute an attorney-client relationship. Also, if you liked this answer as much as my big ego thinks you did, be sure to click the thumbs-up button!



I was asking about pro-bono because I have already spent 10 years and $100,000+ on attorneys defending myself against this monster. I'm financially and emotionally bankrupt. And yes, I have helped and CONTINUE to help people in my profession that truly need it. That's what life is all about.


The court has jurisdiction over the minor child until age 18. So, the Father will be able to seek relief, including modifications, until that time. A motion to dismiss is relatively difficult to obtain in family law cases, especially if the issue is timesharing/parenting plan as the court will most likely want to determine the case on the merits as well as determine if there has been a substantial change of circumstances to warrant the modification. A motion to dismiss would typically not require mediation prior to a hearing on such motion; however, if it is not dismissed, then you would be required to attend mediation in the course of the case proceeding. Best of luck to you.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for your particular case nor is it intended as legal advice. I have not reviewed your case nor have I met with you and the answer to this question does not in any manner whatsoever establish an attorney/client relationship.


You asked several questions, and I will respond accordingly. 1) If you want to get the case dismissed, you need to file a Motion to Dismiss prior to filing an Answer and/or Counterpetition. This Motion must be filed within twenty days from the date you were served to avoid a default against you. The Court, at its discretion, may order the parties to mediation depending on the reasons for modification prior to making a ruling on a Motion to Dismiss. I haven't seen that happen but family law is pretty flexible as far as judicial discretion. 2) I googled and found Legal Aid of Manasota which serves Sarasota and Bradenton areas, you can find information here regarding pro bono representation and whether or not you qualify based on your circumstances.
Legal Aid of Manasota, Inc.
1900 Main Street, Ste. 302
Sarasota, FL 34236
[P] 941-366-0038
[F] 941-364-8855

Tami Lane Augen

Tami Lane Augen


Carmen, what an excellent and informative post!


Whether you can dismiss the case prior to mediation depends on the court's local rules, largely. Unfortunately attorneys cannot take family law cases on a contingency fee basis in Florida. Have you tried to make arrangements for a payment plan with an attorney? You'd be surprised how reasonable we can be. Good luck.

Please be advised that any answers or information disseminated above do not constitute legal advice and that the attorney responsible for this posting is merely attempting to participate in a Q & A session intended to be helpful but certainly not intended to be legal advice. It is important that you understand that no attorney-client relationship has been formed and that the attorney has no obligation to follow up with you with your legal issue unless you separately contact said attorney and arrange for him to legally represent you.

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