How Much Does A Divorce Cost in Florida
How To Not Go Broke in Divorce Court
In this article, I’m going to share with you the average cost of a divorce case and also teach you what you need to know to beat this average and not go broke in Family Court.
What is the Average Cost of a Divorce Case?
The answer is; it depends. The average cost to retain a divorce attorney in Orlando, FL to litigate a divorce or child custody case can vary so widely that it is difficult for most human brains to comprehend.
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According to a 2006 Forbes article, the average cost of divorce was between $15,000 and $30,000. This is enough to send most people running to marriage counseling. However, if you can understand why this average is so high you can discover how to beat the average and save a substantial amount in legal fees.
There are attorneys who charge no less than $15,000 upfront just to get started on the case, while at the same time, there are attorneys who will charge $3000 which will carry the case just as far as the $15,000 would take the client of the more expensive firm.
Does that mean that you get what you pay for? Well… not always. Typically, attorneys who charge those large initial retainers got to the point of being able to charge that fee because they’ve been in practice for many years, have gained a lot of name recognition and picked up a lot of skill and experience along the way to justify those fees.
Most of the time you can expect consistent quality from attorneys who have been in practice for many years, have well-managed firms, and charge high rates. The only drawback is the obvious fact that very few people can actually afford those types of fees.
On the other hand, there are plenty of attorneys to choose from at different levels of experience whose fees are going to fall somewhere in the middle of the range. These law firms are usually more within reach to most of us “regular folk”. Through this access to representation is a good thing, it does create a much larger chance that you will retain an attorney who lacks sufficient experience or organization to get the job done at the quality you desire.
Never Chose an Attorney by Rolling the Dice and Always Know the Odds
In any local market, there may be two attorneys who charge a $3000 retainer to carry a fairly simple custody case to mediation. The first, we will call him “J” is a highly skilled litigator who pays attention to detail and gets great results for his clients. The second one, we will refer to him as “E”, charges the same fee and is known for submitting subpar pleadings, misses hearings, has lots of negative reviews online, and even has state bar discipline on his record that is easily viewable online by the public.
This is a perfect example of the danger that people face when trying to hire an attorney who charges a more reasonable rate. It is very difficult to know what you are going to get. The simple fact is that the more you pay for your attorney, the lower the chances are that you will end up disappointed with the services they provide. Conversely, the less you pay for an attorney, the higher your chances of ending up disappointed with the services they provide.
It is likely that if you can afford to spend $15,000 on a retainer that you can expect to have phone calls returned promptly, emails responded to quickly, and for the law firm to file as many motions and set up as many hearings without hesitation as needed to satisfy your every desire in the case.
However, because family law attorneys bill their rates according to the amount of time invested in the case, lower-income clients may find that the motions and hearings may be limited in number based on what the client is able to pay the lawyer to prepare for.
Does this mean that if I cannot afford the $15,000 retainer that I am doomed to poor representation? This answer is no! The truth is that in most cases there is no need for a high number of hearings and costly litigation. If you have an attorney who has a mind toward strategically working your case toward a settlement that you are happy with then you can substantially reduce your out-of-pocket costs.
If you are blessed enough for the other party to also have hired such an attorney as well then you will have great chances of settling your case outside of court and saving yourselves a ton of money.
The number one factor that affects how much you will pay for your case is not what you think it is.
Believe it or not, the biggest factor that will determine how much your case will cost is not the size of the retainer fee your attorney will charges. The number one factor is whether or not the parties can set aside their emotional hurts and work cooperatively together toward a settlement.
I have seen a great many cases that should have settled and cost the parties peanuts that became a fight that cost them tens of thousands of dollars for the simple fact that they let their emotions dictate their handling of the case.
The sad fact of the matter is that in family law if parties intend to use lawyers as weapons to strike at the other side then the case will be extremely expensive regardless of how much the initial retainer cost you.
Attorneys are much better used as legal guides, trusted advisors, and only as a last resort should they be used as courtroom advocates. Most family law attorneys are not only skilled at going to court but they are also pretty good at facilitating favorable settlement for their clients. Sadly, this skill that lawyers possess is typically underutilized.
Sean Smallwood is an Orlando divorce attorney for the law firm Sean Smallwood, Orlando Divorce & Family Law P.A. where he represents clients in all areas of family law and divorce. 100% of the practice is devoted to family law. As an attorney in Orlando, he has helped many families with a wide variety of family law cases including Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, and many other issues.