The average person knows what happens in a divorce.  Two parties’ assets get divided 50/50 and one party’s income may even be divided by two, as well, via alimony.  The end result of divorce, is therefore, very expensive. So, it is in the best interest of anyone facing divorce in the Naples, Florida area to find a cheap divorce lawyer in Naples, Florida.

Unfortunately, cheap divorce lawyers are not common in Naples, Florida or anywhere else.  Still, there are many things you can do to conduct your divorce in such a way so as to minimize costs.

Simplified Divorce

The cheapest divorce lawyer in Naples, Florida is forgoing the use a lawyer entirely.

The Florida family law code of civil procedure specifically contemplates a cheap, uncontested, simplified divorce with its simplified divorce forms.

Truthfully, these simplified divorce forms will provide you with a divorce when there are minimal debts or assets to divide and the division of those assets is crystal-clear. For example, a simplified divorce will allow one person to keep the 401k and the other person to keep the marital home but a simplified divorce form won’t provide any of the necessary instructions on how to do those things exactly, like signing a quit claim deed to transfer the ownership of the house.

If, in fact, the parties wish to split any whole asset, like a 401k, the simplified divorce provides absolutely no instruction on how to process that (you have to divide most tax-deferred accounts via a Qualified Domestic Relations Order if you don’t want to incur a tax penalty.

Additionally, a simplified divorce doesn’t provide forms for allocating parenting time when the parties have children.  Children’s lives and a parents’ relationship to them are simply too important to leave to any form especially a simplified one.  Each parenting plan should be crafted individually for every particular family and that parenting plan should be expected to be amended as time passes.

Online Divorce Forms

There are numerous services that will take information from you and populate final divorce documents which you are then left to file.  These forms are, typically, identical to the simplified divorce forms that the State of Florida provides for free.

Furthermore, these online services presuppose that you are agreed with 100% of the clauses that will be included in the final divorce documents.  If you are divorcing your spouse, your days of 100% agreement are probably long over.

Online services do not walk you through the process. They just give you the forms and its presumed that the circuit clerk of court employees will help you take the forms through Florida divorce process.

Mediation

Mediation is mandatory before any actual court hearings (beyond temporary motions) occur in a Florida divorce.

If you make less $ 100,000 in annual income as a couple, you can take advantage of the court-provided mediation at the collier county courthouse. The court provided mediation charges a mere $ 120 per person to use their services for three hours.

The mediator will go back and forth between the two parties as they sit in separate rooms to try to arrive at final agreement between the two parties.  Once that final agreement is achieved, the mediator will even write up the final documents and file them in the court for you.  The only final step is for the petitioner to ask for and attend the final hearing which the judge or magistrate will usually walk you through.

If the parties have a joint income of more than $ 100,000, the county mediator will not be available and the parties must hire a private mediator.  At this income level the parties almost always hire an attorney to represent at least one of them.

How To Hire An Affordable Divorce Attorney in Naples, Florida.

If divorce attorneys are hired in Naples, Florida, you’ll find that they have many different characteristics in how they charge.

Different divorce lawyers charge different retainers to begin a case.  A retainer is a requested sum of money that the divorce attorney deposits in a trust account and withdraws as the divorce lawyer earns the money.

In theory, the amount of the retainer should be an estimate as to what the divorce will actually cost.  This is rarely the case, however.

A case may be agreed, likely agreed, contested or highly contested.  A contested case will almost always exceed any divorce lawyer’s retainer

The better indicator of the cost of a divorce lawyer in Naples, Florida is their hourly rate.  Hourly rates seem to vacillate between $ 200 and $ 450 an hour for the lead attorney.  These rates are high for any profession and lead to the next logical question: how to reduce the hours an attorney bills on a divorce case in Naples, Florida.

There is only one way for a divorce lawyer to reduce his or her hours and thus be more affordable or even remotely cheap and that is to have staff.  Support staff are the people without a license who are supervised by the divorce lawyer.  Support staff may be called administrators, secretaries, law clerks or paralegals but they are all doing the same thing: working on a case under a lawyer’s supervision.

This support staff should have a billing rate significantly lower than an attorney’s hourly rate.  The more support staff, a divorce attorney indicates that the divorce attorney relies on the support staff to do the bulk of the work.

A licensed attorney should be doing all of the strategy and court work but virtually all other aspects of a divorce case can be done by the cheaper support staff (under the supervision of the licensed attorney, of course).

A divorce attorney should be issuing invoices every month with detailed descriptions of what the divorce attorney and their staff did at specific intervals.  If an error or miscommunication happens regarding billing, it should be easily verified and corrected with complete and current invoices.

A good divorce attorney is almost never cheap, especially in Naples, Florida.  Costs can be managed and expectations can be set, however.  Every person going through a divorce, whether it be in Naples or elsewhere, deserves that from their divorce attorney.

To learn more about the cost of divorce and how to minimize those costs, contact my Naples Florida family law firm to schedule a free consultation.