More Affordable Family Law Options

By Michelle Mehl

Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for legal advice. No action in regard to your particular matter should be taken until you have first sought full legal or professional advice from a lawyer fully retained to act on your behalf.

Collaborative Law Process 

I think most people would agree that dealing with the breakdown of a relationship is an emotionally draining, painful experience and probably most of you going through a divorce or separation would never consider that it could be a “win-win” situation. But this is exactly what the goal is when the Collaborative Law Process is used rather than the adversarial litigation process.

In actuality, no one is “winning” because you are experiencing the breakup of your marriage/family, but the collaborative law experience is meant to be a win-win for you and your spouse, in that you both are making your own decisions with expert help and guidance, with the promise of proceeding by talking to each other rather than threatening one another with litigation in order to push a specific agenda. If you proceed with litigation, the reality is that the judge has limited options based on his limited information and, thus, usually no one “wins.”

The focus in collaborative law is on the areas of agreement and promotion of problem solving with education and information. You and your spouse control the process with the help of a team, and you and your spouse are the decision-makers for your future. Below, I will describe how that can work.

Unbundled Family Law Services

Retaining a lawyer from start to finish in a family law matter may be out of the budget for many litigants. So, what do you do? Relief might be around the corner. If you cannot afford to pay a traditional family law retainer, you could agree to a Limited Scope Retainer (sometimes called “unbundling”) which is a way that a lawyer can help you with part of your case while you do the rest of the work yourself. The supply of legal services on this “piecemeal basis” is variously known as “unbundled legal services” (or “unbundling”), “discrete task representation,” “limited scope retainers,” “limited service representation” and “à la carte legal services.”

For example:

  1. You can consult with a lawyer to prepare or review your paperwork, but attend the hearing yourself;

  2. You can represent yourself through the whole case, and periodically consult with a lawyer who can coach you on the law, procedures and strategy;

  3. You may ask the lawyer to be on standby while you attend the case conference and settlement conference. 

  4. You may ask the lawyer to assist you in face-to-face settlement negotiations.

The unbundling of legal services is expanding the legal market and at the same time one of the cornerstones of access to justice. Lawyers unbundle the “full-service” package to provide a particular legal service, be it consultation, ghostwriting, or attending settlement meetings, and leave the rest to the client. Clients that may otherwise be unable to afford a lawyer for full representation can now meet the legal system halfway with the assistance of a lawyer.

At Cass & Bishop, we are happy to offer Limited Scope Representation in family law matters. We understand that legal fees can be expensive and, therefore, many people may not be able to afford the expense of hiring an attorney for full representation. With that in mind, Cass & Bishop is happy to offer Limited Scope Representation—where our lawyers assist you with specific parts of your family law case and you do the rest. This is ideal for individuals who need some assistance but cannot afford a full-time lawyer and are able to handle parts of their own case. 

Please note: not all situations or legal issues are suitable for Limited Scope Representation.

 Contact Family Law Lawyer, Michelle Mehl, here.