How much the uncontested divorce should cost? I am afraid once I retain the attorney he or she will keep on adding fee and make it expansive than it is. That is the reason lots of people are hesitant to seek legal services because the notion out there is that attorney are only interested in getting money.
Uncontested divorce retainer fees vary based on a number of issues including if there are children involved, assets and liability to be divided, accessibility of the other spouse, and negotiation that often occurs during the process to make sure the divorce remains uncontested. The best thing to do is call around and speak with attorneys and let them know your concerns that you have expressed here. Choose an attorney that you feel is most responsive to your needs and budget.
Uncontested divorces are generally going to cost you far less in attorneys fees than a contested divorce, the motto to keep in mind with a divorce is the more fighting, the more money. If you and your spouse are in agreement on everything and it can be reduced to writing, it is a pretty simple process. In my practice, the uncontested divorce fee is the only fee you will pay unless the case later becomes contested. You also have to keep in mind there are "fees" which are really costs of a divorce that are not paid to the attorney such as a filing fee to the clerk of court. Many clients seem to think the attorney is asking for this money for themselves when in fact it is a cost that must be paid in every divorce and it goes to the court and not the attorney. You need to keep in mind this cost when deciding on what you can afford when hiring an attorney. Please feel free to contact my Orlando office at 407-377-6828 for a free consultation.
Unfortunately, the notion out there that attorneys are only interested in getting money is not entirely incorrect. There are many attorneys who view their license to practice law as a means to getting fees and could care less about the clients and their lives.
Sometimes, lack of concern for the client is a good thing--you want an attorney to be objective, not a cheerleader for your cause. Yes, you want an advocate but you do not want a lawyer to become so passionate or combative that it creates a major headache of a law suit when there is not a reason for it.
But as you have seen here on Avvo, and probably elsewhere, there are attorneys who actually care about their clients and how the representation will affect them, especially in the family law area where the divorce sets the tone for how the parents and children are going to interact for the rest of their lives. Many clients say to me they just can't wait til a child hits 18yo so they do not have to deal with the ex. Guess what? Life isn't like that. After 18, or graduation from high school, there may be college, there may be weddings, there may be grandchildren, there may be a need to step in and assist. So, setting the right tone, even in a contested divorce, is still very very important.
If you feel that your divorce will be uncontested because you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are in agreement, you may not even need an attorney. The Florida Supreme Court has approved forms--prepared by the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar, whose members probably spent thousands of hours preparing forms and creating comments without compensation, by the way-- to enable people to have access to the Courts with fill in the blank/check off box forms.
The forms can be found on-line, or at the self-help center at the courthouse. IF you think you would be comfortable using these forms, you can try that route, or use a paralegal service to prepare them. A warning: my concern about the forms is that they appear to be so easy to do that people do not stop to think about WHY they are checking off a box. And there may be certain claims that can be made but aren't because the spouse doesn't know to ask for a certain type of relief. So, consulting with an attorney might be a good thing for you to do, even if you like the forms and even if you pay a consultation fee for the lawyer's time.
In my county, spouses can schedule a meeting with a lawyer from the Legal Aid Society at the Self-Help Center to review what the spouse has already prepared; the cost is $1/minute. Perhaps your self-help center has such a program, and if not, try Orange County or Osceola County.
The amount of attorneys fees in any divorce is directly proportional to the agreement that the parties can come to. If the parties can agree upon each issue in the divorce, the amount will be less. In most cases the issues are the division of marital assets and liabilities, and the amount of child support and time sharing. Alimony can also be an issue. Most attorneys that I know are compassionate and knowledgeable. They are not all after just money. I am frequently more concerned about the well being of the children and setting down the parameters whereby the parents govern their own behavior. We have all seen too much resentment in divorce cases, and that resentment can affect the kids, for life. One who hangs onto resentment harbours a thief of his own serenity. At least talk to a few attorneys and decide for yourself which is the most compassionate and not just after dough.
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