CAN I SAVE MONEY AND REPRESENT MYSELF?
Everyone’s circumstances are different and unique. Family law in Washington is complex and it can be challenging to understand exactly what to do at each stage of a divorce. On the other hand, if your divorce is uncontested, if you have no children, and if you and your spouse are parting on good terms, you may decide representing yourself is the right choice. Often not hiring a lawyer is more expensive than attorney fees. Cases involving high value assets, family owned business, only one high income earner, or hotly disputed custody will benefit from legal representation. If you are faced with these difficult issues, you should at least have a consultation with an experienced family law lawyer that can explain your rights and reasonable expectations.
Law firms typically offer their numerous services as a package to clients who retain the firm to “handle the case.” The client receives a complete package of services from the beginning to the end of the case. But some clients do not need, or cannot afford, the complete package of legal services. Rather than being left without any legal assistance, it is possible to pay an attorney, on an hourly basis, to provide specific limited legal advice or services. It is an odd name, but these limited services have become know as “Unbundled Legal Services” in the legal community. Unbundled legal services is legal representation provided on a very limited basis, in the form of specific client-selected services.
The client selects, and pays for, only the specific limited services they need and want. Some examples might include: a session with an attorney for advice on legal procedures; researching a legal issue; drafting or reviewing a document, coaching to prepare for an upcoming hearing or meeting, or assistance in a negotiation. If necessary, the client can return for additional services or full representation. With unbundled services the divorce attorney’s job is different from the beginning. The client does not receive the benefit of full legal representation, but they do receive help with an immediate problem. The attorney’s task is to provide only the specific service requested by the client. If you chose to use unbundled service, the attorney does not represent you, and will provide no services beyond those specifically requested by you. The attorney is paid on an hourly basis in advance of the services to be done.
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