If you need a divorce but can’t afford the full legal costs that this will typically entail, one possible option for you is to get yourself an attorney who offers limited scope representation. Also known as “unbundled legal services,” limited scope representation is an arrangement authorized by the courts where you can receive a lawyer’s help on some but not all parts of a case for a limited fee or set of fees. Under this type of arrangement, you and the lawyer can agree that you will be performing some of the work needed in your case while the lawyer will be doing the others.
The courts have long recognized this type of legal assistance as it can better protect the rights of self-represented litigants. An attorney at the side of these litigants, albeit in a limited capacity, will also give them an opportunity at covering all possible bases in the presentation of their cases and will at the same time give them greater control at the pacing of the proceedings. Under a limited scope representation, you and the lawyer will have to agree on the division of labor. For instance, you can agree to just consult the lawyer and get legal information and advice about your case when you need it. Or, you can agree that the lawyer will represent you on certain issues in your case, or will prepare the forms and other court documentations, or will otherwise attend to the more complicated parts of your case like discovery and legal research, while you on the other hand, will do the rest of the work yourself.
Related Read: Attorney Fees in Divorce: How much do they cost?
Obviously, if you will be paying your lawyer to do only those parts of your case that you cannot do yourself, you will be saving money on legal fees. The lawyer in turn, by leaving the less complex but more time-consuming tasks to you, will be able use his or her time more efficiently to focus on those parts of the work that you by yourself may not have the technical competence to handle properly. In any event, with limited scope representation, you will have more control over your case than if you were to let the lawyer handle the case entirely. In the practice of family law, limited scope representation has been shown a successful arrangement over the years. When trying to determine if a limited-scope arrangement is right for your divorce case, you should first discuss the matter thoroughly with a lawyer, including which areas of the work that you may want to handle yourself as there may be some unseen legal complications. Decide whether you are willing to take full responsibility for those parts of the case which you will be handling on your own. Based on this discussion, you and the lawyer can then agree on whether a limited-scope arrangement will be appropriate for you and your divorce case.
Once you and your lawyer have agreed to a limited scope representation, you document that agreement by way of a written service contract. Make sure that the contract is very clear on what the lawyer will and will not be doing, as well as what you will be doing. The contract should also clearly specify how you will be charged and your fee arrangement. In addition, if the attorney is going to appear in the case for you, a special notice (State Form FL-950, the Notice of Limited Scope Representation) has to be filed in the case to inform the court and the other party of the limited scope representation. For more about this, call me at (805)497-7474 and let’s discuss your case.