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Using limited-scope legal representation in a divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 30, 2024 | divorce

Data shows that approximately eight out of 10 people who enter litigation in civil court do so under self-representation. This means they handle their own case and do not hire an attorney to represent them in court. Reasons for this vary, but one of the most common issues is lack of funds to pay for legal support. Many California spouses, especially parents, who are considering filing for divorce, will be glad to know that some attorneys offer limited-scope legal services.

Learning about this topic can help you determine if it’s something that would benefit you as you navigate divorce or child custody proceedings. It’s important to remember that attorneys do not have to offer limited-scope services. So, if you wind up thinking this type of representation would fit your needs, you’ll want to make sure you explore the resources in your local area to find out which legal teams provide limited-scope representation.

How does limited-scope representation work in a divorce?

It’s helpful to have an attorney speak and act on your behalf in divorce proceedings. This is especially true if your relationship with your ex is contentious and the two of you tend to argue when you’re in the same room. Perhaps you cannot afford to hire full-service legal support but have a few issues you’d really like to discuss or laws you’d like to clarify, etc., before heading to court.

When you form a limited-scope alliance with an experienced family law attorney, it means that the attorney will represent you only regarding a specific issue or issues. For example, perhaps you will ask an attorney to speak on your behalf regarding all child custody matters but not for property division or alimony. An attorney providing limited-scope services usually must inform the court ahead of time.

Services provided on an as-needed or hourly basis

An attorney providing limited-scope services may do so “as needed” or on an hourly basis. The latter is typically for seeking recommendations or guidance about a particular issue. The former is more for situations as described in the previous section of this blog post. You can also seek limited-scope guidance in preparation of divorce mediation or other alternate dispute resolution processes, which enables you to obtain legal support without litigation.

Just because someone who files for divorce or is headed into child custody proceedings cannot afford to hire a full-service legal team, it doesn’t mean that he or she feels equipped to handle his or her entire case as a self-represented litigant. Limited-scope representation is a way to benefit from the knowledge and experience of a family law attorney in a manner that is less strenuous on your budget.