Divorce can be a complicated process that involves intimate emotions and complex legal proceedings. While Florida has a relatively streamlined divorce process, it’s crucial to hire the right attorney to ensure your financial and personal interests are protected. Our partners at ConsumerAffairs researched the best divorce lawyers in West Palm Beach to help find legal help for even the toughest breakups.
How to choose a divorce attorney in West Palm Beach
While divorce rates are higher than average in Florida, West Palm Beach isn’t one of the hotspots, according to recent studies. Divorce is still relatively common, however, and there is a wide range of local attorneys at different price points to choose from.
A good divorce lawyer makes a significant impact in your case’s outcome, making it more likely to receive favorable results in child custody, asset division and alimony payments. You’ll live with the consequences of their work for decades to come, so it’s crucial to make the right call.
Divorce options in West Palm Beach
In Florida, divorce is officially called a dissolution of marriage and can be uncontested or contested. Uncontested divorces, where the couple agrees on all of the divorce terms, are often straightforward and inexpensive.
If the divorce is contested, the couple needs to choose a method to settle the disputed terms. Even contested divorces can often be resolved amicably through collaborative law or mediation, although more contentious divorces require other means. The most common methods to settle divorce disputes in West Palm Beach are:
Collaborative law keeps divorce amicable and relatively affordable if both parties can come to terms on the division of assets and custody. If the couple cannot agree, however, they must hire new attorneys before proceeding to litigation.
Mediation uses a neutral third party to hear both sides and help the couple agree to divorce terms they find fair. In mediation, the parties can reject the intermediary’s proposed solution on disputed items. Mediation is typically a required part of the process for most Florida divorces.
Arbitration is similar to mediation, but an arbitrator can make binding decisions on disputed items. While the parties lose their ability to reject an arbitrator’s solution, the process is less expensive than litigation.
Litigation is the most contentious option and requires both parties’ attorneys to argue disputed terms in front of a judge, who makes a binding decision. It is the most expensive and time-consuming alternative, but it can still provide a favorable outcome with the right attorney.
The cost of divorce in West Palm Beach
Florida’s no-fault divorce status and streamlined processes help keep the cost of divorce below the national average. The average cost of divorce in West Palm Beach is $13,500, of which $10,700 comes from attorney’s fees. The national average divorce cost typically runs between $15,000 and $30,000.
Most attorneys in West Palm Beach charge an hourly rate. The average cost for divorce lawyers is $260 an hour, but that price ranges from $150 to $450 or more an hour, depending on the attorney’s experience. Some lawyers may charge a flat fee for specific services, such as reviewing the documents for an uncontested divorce.
When you hire an attorney, they usually ask for a retainer, which is an upfront sum of money from which the attorney draws expenses as the case proceeds. Many law firms offer free consultations, which lets you ask about rates and retainers while seeing if the attorney would be a good fit for your case.
Choosing a divorce lawyer in West Palm Beach
When selecting a divorce attorney, it’s crucial to find someone you can trust and whose practice is familiar with the challenges of your situation. If there are children involved, consider working with a family law specialist. If you and your spouse remain amicable, find an attorney who specializes in quick and affordable divorces.
When starting your search, look for online reviews or ask for references. If you have a friend or relative who has gone through a divorce, ask about their experience. You can also ask other professional acquaintances, including accountants or attorneys who practice in other areas of law.
It’s a good idea to schedule consultations with several different divorce lawyers in West Palm Beach. Use your time with the attorney to make sure they have experience suited to your divorce. Some questions you might ask include:
What kind of divorce cases do you handle?
How many divorce cases have you handled?
Are you trained in any specialties?
What is your strategy for my case?
How long do you take to return phone calls or emails?
Will anyone else be working on my case?
What is your hourly rate?
What is your retainer fee?
What other costs may be involved?
Besides ensuring they are the right attorney for your case, make sure they’re the right attorney for you. Any attorney you hire should inspire confidence and make you feel comfortable that your interests are protected. Although it may be tempting to choose the cheapest option, finding the right fit reduces stress and provides long-term benefits.
How to keep costs and stress low during divorce in West Palm Beach
If the divorce is uncontested, Florida law allows you to apply for a divorce pro se, which does not involve hiring an attorney. This expedites the process and creates all the necessary forms at minimal cost while providing a step-by-step guide.
With Florida’s simplified divorce process, it’s in your best interest to come to a personal agreement with your spouse regarding consent for divorce and asset division. An amicable divorce can save thousands of dollars and months of painful litigation.
Maintain friendly terms with your spouse throughout divorce proceedings, especially when it comes to children. Allowing phone calls and visitation during the divorce ensures minimal impact on the children and reduces stress during a tense legal process.
While divorce is never simple, hiring the right attorney to navigate the process with you makes a significant difference in your experience and outcome.
Law Offices of Eric C. Cheshire P.A.
Eric C. Cheshire has earned resoundingly positive reviews from West Palm Beach clients for his personalized approach and reputation for consistently delivering satisfying results. He has experience with family law and child custody agreements. Cheshire also works with clients on collaborative divorces and helps file documents for uncontested divorces.
Bruce Law Firm
Bruce Law Firm focuses on divorces involving business valuation, the need to confront a difficult or intimidating person, the defense of long-term support claims or serious issues involving children. Unlike most divorce attorneys, Bruce Law Firm uses fixed pricing arrangements. West Palm Beach clients praise the firm’s attorneys for their professionalism and intelligence.
The Eaton Family Law Firm, P.A.
The Eaton Law Firm handles a wide variety of cases, including divorce, separation, family law, appeals and mediation. Catherine Eaton is a certified family mediator and works with clients on collaborative divorces as well as litigation. West Palm Beach reviewers praise Catherine Eaton’s integrity and sensitivity when working with complex family law cases and tough divorces.