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  • Writer's picturePurves-Smith Law

Self-represented in a family law matter and worried you can’t afford a lawyer?

Updated: Nov 11, 2018

Unfortunately, most people involved in a family dispute in our court-system are self-represented. The cost of retaining a lawyer is often too high, and Legal Aid is only available to people who meet the programs stringent income thresholds. As a result, many people are left facing the prospect of appearing in family court to fight a legal battle by themselves, which can be intimidating and even frightening.

Thankfully, self-represented litigants can make use of “unbundled” legal services, also known as “limited scope” legal representation. A lawyer offering unbundled legal services acts for the client on an as-needed basis but does not become the client’s “lawyer of record,” which results in significant cost savings for the client.

Services offered under a limited scope retainer in family law include preparation of pleading documents and correspondence to the opposing side, strategic advice, and coaching for court appearances, amongst other things. Unbundled services give you the flexibility to control costs and to only pay a lawyer for the services you need. Further, nothing prevents you from hiring a lawyer to appear in court on a limited basis at any stage in your proceeding.

The following example illustrates the value of unbundled legal services. In our example, the mother’s lawyer has just served father with an emergency motion because she wants to move the children to another city and enroll them in a new school, something father vigorously opposes. Father lacks the resources to hire a lawyer to go on the record and argue the motion and has no experience with the family court system. Under a limited scope retainer, a lawyer could draft a persuasive response to mother’s motion and advise father on how to prepare for the court hearing, which could make a significant difference in the outcome of the motion.

I have helped numerous self-represented parties by offering unbundled legal services. My clients have achieved positive results and kept legal costs down using this model. Contact me a free consultation to determine if unbundled legal services could help you.


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