Florida Family Law FAQs
The Law Offices of Sean Smallwood, P.A. in Orlando represents clients in all types of family law matters, including divorce, paternity, and child custody issues. Here, we answer some frequently asked questions about getting divorced in Florida with the goal of setting you on the right track for handling your divorce in a manner that empowers you, rather than breaks you down. Acquiring knowledge is the first step to dealing with divorce smartly and with strength… calling us is the second.
What Kind Of Fees Do You Charge?
This is one of the most common questions that we receive at our Orlando divorce law firm. The Florida bar permits divorce and family lawyers to collect fees from their clients in a number of different ways that can be generally grouped into one of two different categories, refundable and nonrefundable.
By far, the most common type of fee that is charged by divorce attorneys in Orlando Florida is the nonrefundable fee. This is because nonrefundable fees require less bookkeeping and are guaranteed profits for the attorney.
At Sean Smallwood PA, we do not charge our clients nonrefundable fees unless this is something that the client specifically requests. Our preferred fee structure is a refundable fee structure where the client commits to maintain a more reasonable balance in the law firm’s account at all times throughout the case.
If and when for any reason the representation concludes the firm prepares a final billing statement and whatever funds are remaining on account with us are refunded to the client’s card.
This is part of our commitment to always put our clients best interests ahead of our own even if it means that the firm makes less money. This will be a very important question to ask any divorce lawyer that you consult with.
For an uncontested divorce in Florida, do I have to go to court?
In Florida, an uncontested divorce does not require a trial, but you will still need to appear in court before a judge. And when you go before the judge, you must take a Final Decree with you for the judge to sign. The judge will ensure you’ve completed the necessary paperwork within the guidelines of Florida law, and he or she may ask you some basic questions about the information on the forms. However, the judge will not provide legal advice or provide a thorough auditing of the paperwork, which is why it’s important to consult with an experienced Florida family law attorney even if your divorce is uncontested.
How much does divorce cost in Florida?
The costs and fees for divorce in Florida vary widely. Generally, however, the more complex and contested the issues, the more the divorce will cost. When you meet with a Florida family law attorney, you’ll be able to get an estimate of the total cost of your divorce so you have a better idea what to expect. At The Law Offices of Sean Smallwood, P.A., we do not charge a substantial non-refundable retainer fee upfront (like some Florida divorce lawyers do). Rather, we accept a smaller, refundable deposit that we bill against, and if your divorce costs less than we expected, you get the balance back.
Will mediation help my divorce?
You may have heard of divorce mediation as a way to handle your divorce as amicably as possible, and many Florida counties have public or court-connected mediation services available, including the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court in Orange County. In mediation a neutral and impartial facilitator—the mediator—acts to assist you in resolving your divorce issues. It is an informal and non-adversarial process with the goal of helping you and your soon-to-be-former spouse reach a mutually acceptable divorce agreement, rather than spending time, money, and energy on a trial. At The Law Offices of Sean Smallwood, P.A., we support the use of mediation to settle divorce issues, and we can guide you through the divorce mediation process.