Choose the right Jacksonville Divorce Lawyer to handle your case
This site provides general information about Jacksonville divorce and the selection of a Jacksonville divorce lawyer.
Choosing the right divorce lawyer may be the most important decision a person contemplating divorce makes. There are many divorce attorneys to choose from. Choosing the wrong attorney could be very costly and could have a long term detrimental impact on a party’s future.
What should I look for in a Jacksonville divorce lawyer?
Everyone expects something different when they select a Jacksonville divorce lawyer. Here is what you need to ask yourself. Do you want to settle and control your outcome? Or, do you want to fight and let a judge decide your fate? Give some serious thought to those two questions as your decision is very important. If you look hard enough, you can find an attorney who will fight every issue for you (and gladly bill you in the process!).
Thankfully, most of my clients are people who want to resolve their divorce case without wasting time and money. I consider myself a divorce lawyer who is solution oriented. Every case is different, but I resolve many of my cases on an uncontested basis. Read about it here.
Of course, not every case can be resolved and that is why we have judges. I have had contested hearings in front of every family law judge in Duval County. I am not sure you would want a divorce attorney who wasn’t ready to go to court when necessary.
However (and this is key), unlike some other Jacksonville divorce lawyers, I am not looking to start a fight. That simply means that I am going to look for ways to solve your case instead of exploring ways to prolong your case. In my opinion, there are unfortunately a few divorce lawyers that care more about their fees than they do about their client’s welfare.
Does the Jacksonville divorce lawyer my spouse chooses matter?
Your spouse’s selection of a Jacksonville divorce lawyer definitely matters! If your spouse chooses a divorce lawyer with a settlement mentality, then in my opinion there is a better chance of getting the case resolved by way of Agreement (either by negotiation, settlement conference or mediation). Fortunately, the majority of the divorce lawyers that I work with would like to settle their client’s cases in a reasonable fashion. This should not be taken as a sign of weakness, however, as many of these same lawyers are excellent when they are forced to go to court.
Contrary to their bark, some divorce lawyers who like to fight aren’t that effective in court! Yes, I know that some might look tough in their yellow page ads and the language they use on their websites. But, I have been against most Jacksonville lawyers with 5 or more years experience who focus their practice on family law in Jacksonville…and I know the tough ones. I laugh when I get a letter from an aggressive lawyer (it actually happens very rarely these days) as the letter is clearly written for their client’s benefit since it has no impact on me.
With the advent of mediation, it is clear that Judges want people to work their cases out. Almost all divorce cases are sent to mediation. What can make the difference in whether the case settles is who is representing the parties. Do the lawyers want to facilitate settlement or do they want to get in the way (or block) settlement by their words and actions. It is sad to see 2 people (who have chosen overly aggressive lawyers) spend tens (sometimes hundreds) of thousands dollars on their divorce case, but it happens!
Does my spouse have to have his/her own Jacksonville divorce lawyer?
Your spouse does not have to have his/her own Jacksonville divorce lawyer. In Florida, a lawyer cannot represent both parties in a divorce case. However, a divorce attorney can represent one party and the other side can choose to represent themselves. In this situation, the divorce attorney for the represented party can draft a Marital Settlement Agreement (or Consent Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage) that can then be provided to the unrepresented party. The unrepresented party, if they choose, can consult with another Jacksonville divorce lawyer and get an independent opinion.
Who is Jacksonville divorce lawyer Steve Leitman?
Steve Leitman is a Jacksonville divorce lawyer with over 20 years experience representing people going through divorce. As a Jacksonville divorce lawyer, he has had the benefit and pleasure of practicing before the Family Law Judges in Duval County. Steve is a former Florida Supreme Court certified family law mediator who served as a mediator in over 500 cases. Steve has also served as a Special Magistrate and he is currently a Master in the Florida Family Law Inns of Court. Steve believes clients (and their children) are best served when a reasonable settlement can be reached. As a former mediator, he had the opportunity to gain insight on how various Jacksonville divorce lawyers handle their cases. He has over 20 years of courtroom experience and is a former Assistant State Attorney, so he is ready to switch gears if litigation becomes necessary.
Steve received an AV® Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell. According to the Martindale-Hubble website an AV® certification mark is a significant rating accomplishment – a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence. A lawyer must be admitted to the bar for 10 years or more to receive an AV® rating.
I know it can be challenging to figure everything out alone. Your researching on the internet about potential Jacksonville divorce attorneys is a great start. My philosophy is very simple…if there is a way for you to get a great settlement without having to go to court, then we will pursue that option first. I look forward to speaking to you about the various options you may have regarding your divorce case and my experience as a Jacksonville divorce attorney. If you have questions about which Jacksonville divorce lawyer to choose, call me.
*Here are some great questions to ask your referral source about their lawyer…
Was their divorce lawyer responsive to their questions?
Did their divorce lawyer accomplish what was asked?
Did their divorce lawyer move the case forward in a reasonable fashion?
Did their divorce lawyer look for ways to get the case settled?
Did their divorce lawyer charge a reasonable fee?
Did their divorce lawyer have a good working knowledge of the relevant Florida Statutes and case law?
Choose a Jacksonville divorce lawyer whose former clients would answer yes to all of these questions and you should be in good shape!