Nov 07, 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.