November 2007 Archives

November 21, 2007

Lottery Ticket? What Lottery Ticket?

Did you hear the one about the husband who won the lottery, neglected to tell his wife, and then bailed out and hasn't been heard from since? It's no joke. As reported in the Bradenton Herald, Donna Campbell has filed a lawsuit against her husband, Arnim Ramdass, after finding out that he hid from her the fact that he had won $600,000 in the Florida lottery. Of course, she can't serve him with the lawsuit, because he's taken a powder.

If she could find and serve him, what would she get? Florida is an equitable distribution state, so if Campbell files for divorce--and who could blame her?--she would be entitled to half of the lottery winnings. A judge might even award her more because of Ramdass' attempt to deceive her, like the California judge did in a 1999 divorce case in which the wife filed for divorce weeks after winning the lottery, and hid the lottery winnings throughout the divorce procedure. Hope she finds the guy....

November 7, 2007

Do It Yourself (Almost) Divorce: Limited Scope Representation in Family Law

In the vast majority of family law cases, at least one spouse is self-represented. Often, both parties are going it alone. Who can afford lawyers? Retainers are often five to ten thousand dollars, and fees mount up quickly even for the simplest divorce if there are disagreements.

For people with a lot of assets or significant disagreements about custody, it may be necessary to hire a lawyer to take over the case. But for lots of other family law litigants, a little bit of help can go a long way. That's where "limited scope representation" comes in. Limited scope representation, also sometimes called "unbundling," means you hire a lawyer to help you with a specific part of your case--for example, reviewing a settlement agreement you've come up with in mediation, or appearing in court on your behalf to argue child support, or coaching you so that you can represent yourself in a court hearing. The lawyer isn't taking over the case or representing you completely, but merely helping you with one aspect.

 Some lawyers won't do it--they think that they can't learn enough in a limited time to be sure they're serving your best interests. But as more and more people go it mostly alone, the demand for limited scope representation is growing and lawyers are responding.  A persistent search should turn up someone who will work with you.