A La Carte Legal Services for Divorce
Did you know that a divorcing person doesn’t have to choose either a do-it-yourself divorce or retaining a lawyer to represent them in court for a full divorce case? Instead, you can control the role your lawyer will play and how much you spend by hiring a lawyer for “limited scope representation.”
There are many sources of information about divorce, the internet and friends and family among the most common. The problem is that much of what these sources say is misleading, because it doesn’t take individual circumstances into account, or wrong. Limited scope representation can consist of an informational meeting with a lawyer to explain how the law applies to your situation and help you develop a game plan for moving forward with the divorce – including what additional limited scope services might fit your needs and budget.
Providing legal advice when and about the specific items you need, sometimes called coaching or consulting, is one example of these additional limited scope services. You can get guidance for negotiations with your spouse, whether working alone with the spouse or with a mediator. The lawyer can also work with you to identify critical or difficult issues in your case and options for addressing them, such as evaluating different alimony scenarios or dividing an IRA in a tax advantageous way. If you will be appearing in court alone, your lawyer can help you prepare so you can do it more effectively.
Connecticut court rules authorize two additional limited scope services – document preparation and attendance at specific court events. For example, if custody is your priority, you can hire a lawyer for the limited purpose of preparing necessary motions and other key documents relating to child custody. Also, your lawyer can attend and represent you at a custody hearing or in meetings with the family relations officer, your child’s guardian ad litem or the judge.
Sometimes divorcing persons reach a general agreement on the terms of the divorce and go to court ready to finish it up. Unfortunately, people sometimes leave the courthouse still married because the judge didn’t accept their agreement or, after they are divorced, find themselves back in court because their agreement was unclear or incomplete. For example, it isn’t enough to say the house will be sold and the proceeds split without also addressing who will live there or pay the bills until it is sold or what if a year has passed without any offers. The court rules authorize hiring a lawyer to draft the settlement agreement so that it will be approved by the court and addresses what should happen next if things don’t go as anticipated. Your lawyer can now attend the final hearing with you, standing by your side to present the agreement, answer the judge’s questions and guide you throughout the hearing.
If you want limited scope representation, expect to sign a detailed engagement letter with your lawyer. It will spell out specifically what services are included in the representation. You would then be responsible on your own for things outside of that scope. Of course, as the case proceeds, the scope of the engagement can always be expanded by mutual written agreement of you and your lawyer.
Limited scope representation can allow you to obtain only the legal services that you want. In some cases, it may be a good option.
Feel free to contact me to learn more about limited scope representation and explore whether it might be a good option for you.
Thank you to RJ Media for publishing this article in the June 7, 2018 edition of “The Cheshire Citizen”.