Articles Posted in Attorney fees

Scales-of-Justice-Gold-300x200You didn’t need a lawyer when you got married, so many times people feel like they don’t need a lawyer to get divorced.  This, however, is not typically the best approach. Most divorces have at least one issue that is a legal matter. Whether it is alimony, child timesharing, child support, dividing the marital home or assets, it is important to speak to a Florida family law attorney to guide you through the law that exists pertaining to the legal issues that are in your case. While many couples feel that they can fairly and equally divide their assets, the truth is once dollar signs begin getting assigned, self interest begins to override the fairness principle. Having an attorney that you can rely on to be looking out for your best interest is your best approach, as the attorney should be aware of how a judge or magistrate will most likely rule in your case, and can advise you appropriately.

But lawyers are so expensive?! It’s true that the hourly rate of many lawyers seems staggering at first glance, and those hours pouring over your file and the details of your life add up. The question for most clients is what are the costs associated with retaining an attorney? In Florida, unlike personal injury cases, divorce cases cannot be taken on a contingency basis, meaning unless you win, you don’t pay.  Rather, Florida divorce attorneys typically take a retainer, basically a down payment for services, where the lawyer charges against the amount of your retainer, and when that is depleted, they either ask for an additional retainer or charge you monthly based on the work that they perform. This can include preparing motions, drafting pleadings, taking phone calls with opposing calls, attending court hearings or mediations. There are other tasks that lawyers charge for as well such as researching your specific legal issue that may be complex, updating you with the status of your case, and writing letters or emails. This is not an exhaustive list of what lawyers, but rather the most commonly seen things that clients see on their bill. When speaking with an attorney about retaining their services, it is important to weigh many factors.  It’s important to feel a good rapport with your attorney, this relationship must be built on  honesty and similar mindset for your case. When you are interviewing a lawyer, the lawyer is also interviewing you to determine if you are the right type of client for them. It’s also very important to consider their experience in life and in law.

The following questions can be asked during the initial meeting with the Florida family law attorney:

Written by: Lenorae Atter, Attorney at Law

1169459_money_or_mariage_3.jpgIn a Florida divorce, there are often concerns posed by potential divorcees about legal fees. Hiring an attorney can be beneficial to the preservation of your rights as they relate to alimony, child support, child custody (time-sharing issues), division of property and the like. However, attorney fees are also an expense that can sometimes be afforded by one party more than the other. The question then arises as to, “How can I hire a divorce lawyer if my spouse is the one working?” There are multiple answers to this question, which can be answered by your Jacksonville divorce lawyer, but a common answer is that the spouse making the majority of the money may be responsible for the other party’s attorney fees so that the discrepancy in income does not lead to unfair advantage in the courtroom.

However, disparity in incomes is not the only way that attorney fees and costs related to your divorce may be paid by the other party. Typically, when you first hire an attorney you are quoted a retainer based on the issues surrounding your case, the experience of the attorney, and the hourly rate charged by the attorney. However, if the other party forces excessive litigation against the other party, then there is the possibility of being awarded attorney fees for the unnecessary litigation actions of that party. For example, if you hire an attorney to represent you in a divorce with no children, no marital home, some assets (vehicles, furniture, etc.), and some debt (one or two credit cards), then the divorce should not be overly complicated because there is not a lot to fight over in the world of equitable distribution. However, if your spouse tries to argue over everything, a fork, a spoon, a knife and a light bulb and in the process creates additional and excessive legal fees. The courts have held that the party responsible for creating, “vexatious and frivolous litigation,” can be held responsible for the fees incurred as a result, Taylor v. Taylor, 734 So.2d 473 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999).