Divorce is a costly process, even under the best of circumstances. It will increase when the cost of a custody lawyer in Florida becomes a factor.
However, no price can be placed on the proper care and well-being of the family’s youngest members, and securing a quality custody attorney is an absolute priority when it comes to divorce cases with children involved.
This guide will provide vital information and estimates about the costs of child custody services. Please remember that nothing that follows is legal advice; this is only meant to help you educate yourself as you enter this process.
How Much Does a Custody Lawyer Cost in Florida?
As in any case tried in Florida family court, the lawyer in your custody case must charge you an hourly rate. You may also find that some firms have evergreen retainers. Rates for custody lawyers vary in Florida, and it’s best to contact the law firm you are interested in working with for more information.
Retainers: Lawyers expect payment up front, in the form of a retainer, and typically expect a retainer as a cash reserve, and will deduct their wages and fees from the total.
It is essential to realize that this does not mean that this retainer payment will be the last payment necessary for the firm’s services. The cash reserve may become exhausted as custody attorneys represent their clients and continue to bill them for their hours.
Once the retainer runs out, it must be replenished, typically for the same amount as the original payment. Many lawyers will return any unused part of a retainer when the case is settled, but not all will. Some retainers are non-refundable, so check with your law firm before you pay.
These Factors Determine the Cost of a Custody Attorney
In Florida, both parents have a time-sharing plan with their children. Once you have chosen an attorney and know their hourly rate, the other variable affecting the final cost is how many hours you will need to pay the attorney and how many additional fees you will face before you settle your case. Let’s look at some of the main factors that will determine the costs of your case.
Parenting Plan: The parenting plan is the most significant concern; parents often want to hammer it out themselves. Still, leaving this to the professionals is in both parties best interest.
This parenting plan covers schedules in detail and responsibilities for concerns, including custodial duties such as health care, school affairs, and other matters affecting a family’s daily life.
Mediators: Mediation is required in Florida. Mediators are legal professionals who work closely with custody lawyers to settle the parenting plan, an essential part of the divorce process. It’s best to contact the mediators you are interested in working with for more information.
Fees and Services: Your attorney will also charge filing fees and fees for the court reporter. If you need to pay for an expert witness, that cost will also need to be considered.
Guardian ad Litems (GAL): In Florida, parents determining a parental time-sharing plan can request an appointment of a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) by the courts. The GAL can make several recommendations to the court, such as: which parent children should live with, specific time-sharing schedules for each parent, and which parent has specific decision-making authorities.
Social Investigation: A social investigation in a child custody case in Florida involves a court-appointed social investigator assessing the child’s best interests and evaluating the parents’ mental health, parenting abilities, and home environment. Interviews, observations, record reviews, and recommendations to the court are conducted to inform custody decisions.
Parenting Coordinator (For Co-Parenting): A Parenting Coordinator in a child custody case in Florida acts as a neutral third party to help divorced or separated parents with co-parenting disputes. They facilitate communication, mediate conflicts, and help parents develop and implement parenting plans. They may also provide education on child development and parenting skills, monitor compliance with court orders, and make recommendations to the court. They aim to promote healthy co-parenting and reduce conflict for the child’s well-being.
All of these charges may seem overwhelming when taken as a whole. Still, your investment upfront will set the foundation for a secure financial future for you and your children.
If your law firm is working in your best interest, you can rest assured you are making sound decisions that will serve you well later in life.
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Call Whitbeck Bennett at (727) 380-6552 or email us at email@example.com to start a relationship with an experienced, ethical, and reputable firm.