The end of a marriage can be a stressful and challenging time for the entire family. The longer you’ve been married, the more assets you have, or having children can all make divorce that much more complicated. Thankfully, there are experienced professionals ready to help you through this situation.
Here are three common questions we get from people who are looking into divorce proceedings in Cocoa, Florida.
The Subtle Difference Between A Lawyer And An Attorney
Throughout the US, the terms attorney and lawyer are generally used interchangeably.
There are, however, some subtle differences. Here are some simple facts you will want to know when you are Googling “divorce lawyer near me” or “divorce attorney near me.”
Standard Dictionary Definitions For Lawyer And Attorney
The standard dictionary definition of a lawyer is “someone who gives legal advice and represents people in legal matters.” Meanwhile, the standard dictionary definition of an attorney is “a professional who has graduated from law school and who is licensed to represent clients in legal matters.” In fact, the word attorney is actually shorthand for the full term, “attorney at law.”
Not All Lawyers Are Attorneys, Here’s Why
Did you know that not everyone who goes to law school ends up taking the BAR exam or represents clients in court? There are many ways to use your legal degree without taking these additional steps. That’s where the difference between lawyer and attorney comes into play. While it is true that all attorneys are lawyers, not all lawyers become attorneys. To become a lawyer, you simply must graduate from law school. To become an attorney, you have to graduate law school, pass the bar exam, and then you can represent clients in court.
Other Legal Representatives You May Hear About
Knowing the difference between a lawyer and an attorney can be vital if you expect your divorce to escalate to court hearings. Not all divorces become messy or complicated fights. Here are some other terms for legal representation that could help you with divorce or other legal matters throughout your life.
• Advocate – Sometimes, this term is simply used synonymously for an attorney because it means a person who can legally plead the case for an individual in a court of law. However, some advocates have less education or certificates than a lawyer and typically serve underserved communities.
• Counsel – Your counsel can refer to one or more lawyers and attorneys that represent a single client or business. It can be related to just one person or a whole group of people.
• Esquire – You might see Esquire, abbreviated as Esq., after someone’s name from time to time. It is an English term for a man who ranks just below a knight, but somehow it became used by those in the US’s legal profession long ago.
You don’t see it very often these days but may run into it at some point.
When getting a divorce, you will likely work with a family law lawyer or attorney.
While family law offices handle a wide range of legal matters, divorce is the most common. In addition to divorce, family law offices can help with pre and postnuptial agreements, custody issues, adoption, and more. When handling the sensitive topic of divorce, you should choose representation from a trusted firm with many years of experience.
When Should You Hire A Divorce Attorney?
When you’re thinking of getting a divorce, it helps to know the rules and laws in the state of Florida to let you know when if and when you need to hire an attorney.
Here is a little overview of information about obtaining a divorce in FL.
• Eligibility To File For Divorce In Florida
One person involved must have lived in Florida for at least six months. This stipulation is waived for military families in some cases. The divorce must be filed within the county of FL, where at least one party lives. If you live in Cocoa, Florida, for example, you will file there.
• Grounds For Divorce In Florida
You don’t have to have any specific reason or accusation for divorce in Florida. It is a no-fault state for divorce.
• Florida Divorce Process
The person requesting divorce will file a form called the “petition for the dissolution of marriage.” The papers must be served to the other party, called the respondent. They will fill out a “waiver of service” that will need to be notarized. It becomes more complicated if the respondent doesn’t wish to get divorced, or the parties can’t agree on the division of assets, or there are children involved.
The steps sound simple enough, and with the internet, everyone wants to try to go the DIY route when they can. Divorce, however, is a complicated legal matter and is really best handled by a family lawyer with expertise.
Suppose you anticipate a custody dispute, a resistance to the divorce, or you have more than a few thousand dollars in assets to divvy up. In that case, you’ll want to consult with a Brevard County family law firm before getting started. You can get a free lawyer consultation with The Law Office of Gutin and Wolverton.
Here are a few reasons why it’s a good idea to have your own divorce lawyer or divorce attorney working for you:
You need expert advice from a dedicated professional that’s been through this before. There will be many details you might miss on your own; having an expert by your side will make sure nothing falls through the cracks and gives you someone to get advice from throughout the proceedings.
You could avoid potentially costly mistakes by hiring legal representation from the start. While you are stressed and, grieving isn’t the best time to be making difficult, sometimes complicated legal decisions on your own.
Walk away with a clear agreement that is binding and accurate. The courts may approve a divorce agreement you put together yourself, but it might not interpret it the same way you do. You need the ability to state your arrangement in a way that makes sense to the court to avoid agreeing to something you did not intend.
Finally, hiring legal help will ensure that the divorce is handled as quickly and efficiently as possible.
n the event you have a fight on your hands, having an aggressive trial or custody attorney in your corner will be helpful.
The Cost To Hire Or Retain A Divorce Attorney In Florida
The cost of your legal representation in a divorce will depend on the length and complexity of the case.
In Florida, the average hourly range is between $260 – $330.
The total cost of an average divorce could be between $11,000 and $14,000.
Now, the fees could be considerably smaller if the divorce is quick and uncontested.
It could also cost more if there is a lengthy custody battle.
A firm will determine their hourly rate based on the average in the area and their level of service and expertise. You will pay more for a legal team with many years of experience or one that specializes in difficult or high-profile cases.
What Is A Divorce Lawyer Retainer Fee?
Requiring a retainer fee is a typical practice by many divorce lawyers. Think of it as a downpayment. In Florida, the average retainer fee for legal services in divorce proceedings can be anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. The money is held in a trust, and funds can be withdrawn as needed for hourly rates, filing fees, etc. Leftover funds after the divorce is final may be returned.
You will enter into a trust agreement that will clearly outline how the money is to be used and if it is refundable or not. The retainer fee will also usually cover all the immediate advice your lawyer will give you throughout the process. This keeps you from having to pay-out an individual fee for every hour or every phone call.
Actions You Will Typically Be Charged For
Besides an hourly rate and administrative fees, here are some individual things retainer money could be used for.
• Phone Calls
• Drafting petitions and motions
• Emails and other correspondence
• Court appearances
How To Get The Best Legal Representation For Your Money
Don’t make any decisions, including choosing your legal representative, when you are highly emotional or stressed. It could help for you to take a trusted family member or friend with you to interview law firms you may hire.
Be sure to ask plenty of in-depth questions and pay attention to how they are answered. If your consultation feels rushed or you are made to feel insignificant, do not pick that firm. It is your right to ask questions before hiring an attorney. You may want to ask about their education, years of experience, and specialization. You can also request references.
It is important for you to understand in full what amount you will be charged and how payment will be made. An exact estimate might be difficult to provide at the first meeting, but they should have a general idea of the cost and time the divorce will take.
Choosing To Work With Gutin & Wolverton
Suppose you are facing a divorce or paternity action or have questions about Florida alimony law, child support, or custody issues. In that case, you should meet with our Family Lawyers to discuss your situation. Gutin & Wolverton offers clients skilled and comprehensive family law legal services at very reasonable rates, including payment plans and accepting credit cards.
For a free discrete consultation about your family separation or divorce, options contact us today at (312) 633-7337 or stop by our office in Cocoa, Florida most anytime.
Gutin & Wolverton: Harley I. Gutin
5190 N Cocoa Blvd, Cocoa, FL 32927
Family law attorney in Sharpes, Florida.