My husband and I have come to an agreement on custody and asset issues. We do not want to pay for attorneys anymore. What is the process for dropping your attorney and finishing your case with a mediator? Or can we just fill out the paperwork ourselves?
Technically, you can fire your attorney at any time. If you have not yet gone to mediation, you can go and have the mediator do the finish work.
However, be advised that an attorney can alert you to things you are not aware of that may be in your long term interest. While it is fine, and great, that you and your spouse have agreed on many or all issues, there may be alternate positions that are just as suitable between you and better for you individually. Only an attorney can advise as to these circumstances. Mediators cannot practice law while mediating, even if they're also lawyers.
If you do not like the way your attorney is handling your case, you can direct them by choosing to do as you please instead of how they advise - but getting that advise will help you make a more informed decision.
Before you drop attorneys, make sure you have paid in full reverything you have been billed or the attorney can attach a lien to assets you receive in the settlement and refuse to turn over your file until you pay.
This is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice upon which anyone should rely. Nor does it create any attorney client relationship.
Stanton L. Cobb
Board Certified Marital & Family Law Specialist
Fellow - American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
P.O. Box 149223
Orlando, FL 32814-9223
Many times, if you and your spouse are still talking and things are amicable between you, it is easy to work together to wind up your dissolution of marriage issues. While the other answers are correct, and you should be overly cautious, if you have thought about each and every issue (you've cited custody & assets) and how it may play out in the future, and you feel comfortable with both of your positions, you may proceed to complete all paperwork yourself, draft an agreement between yourselves for all issues, and attend mandatory mediation together.
If you attend mediation, you will let the mediator know you have come to an agreement and address each of the issues with him/her, who will help you memorialize your agreements in writing and submit them to the court for you. You will then need to set an uncontested hearing before the judge who will make sure you have adressed all issues in your prior agreement freely & voluntarily, and will ask you basic questions to establish one of you is a resident and have been so for six (6) months prior to the filing. You then must state, under oath the marriage is irretrievably broken, show a copy of your driver's license for proof of residency, and answer any other questions the judge may have. It usually takes about 5 minutes.
While the advice and guidance of an attorney are well worth it; it can be done if you have the time and energy to follow through with all requirements, including the administrative tasks such as setting your hearing, scheduling mediation, filing the right documents with the court, and making sure all paperwork is complete and correct before your final hearing.