What Is Limited Scope Representation in California Family Law?
Navigating any family law case can be a daunting and stressful experience. It is very difficult to predict how long a case will take to complete or how much it will cost you in legal fees, even if the matter seems straightforward at first. Hiring the right attorney to represent you is one of the most important decisions you can make when handling your family law matter. It’s also important to know exactly what you need from an attorney and what you can handle on your own. If you have concerns about the cost of legal fees for any family law matter in California, it’s vital to understand what limited scope representation is and how this can work in your favor.
What Is Limited Scope Representation?
As the name implies, limited scope representation refers to any situation in which an attorney provides legal counsel for only a limited number of issues in a family court matter. For example, if you are ending your marriage but you and your spouse already have worked out property division under applicable California laws, you may only need an attorney for a child custody determination. Perhaps you and your spouse went through collaborative divorce or mediation and have reached acceptable terms on most aspects of your divorce, but you must still litigate one or two lingering issues. An attorney can provide limited scope representation for these issues and nothing more, streamlining your experience in the legal system and saving you money.
Why Is Limited Scope Representation Valuable?
Some divorce cases are emotionally driven, and the divorcing spouses cannot stand being near one another, let alone imagine negotiating their divorce peaceably. Others are more civil, and divorcing spouses may not require much legal assistance when negotiating fair and equitable terms of their divorce. In the latter case, limited scope representation can be beneficial, allowing a divorcing individual to secure just as much legal counsel as they require without investing in more expansive representation that costs much more.
Imagine a divorce involving a couple that has agreed to virtually everything involved in their divorce. They do not have children, so child custody and child support are not concerns for them. They seem to reach a reasonable arrangement for dividing their property, but one spouse believes they are entitled to alimony, and the other spouse disagrees. In this situation, limited scope representation can provide the spouses with just enough legal counsel to navigate alimony issues and finalize their divorce.
How Can a Limited Scope Representation Arrangement Help Me?
If you are divorcing in California, the process is multifaceted and time-consuming. Depending on the unique nature of your divorce, you may encounter one or several issues that will require legal counsel to address. You can turn to limited scope representation if you only require limited legal counsel, or you can have an attorney perform specific functions to aid in your divorce process. Some of the services you can expect from a limited scope attorney include:
- Document preparation. Filing paperwork with the family court is usually a tedious and complex process. You can have an attorney assist with your paperwork while you handle the rest of your proceedings on your own.
- Courtroom preparation. If you only want an attorney’s assistance in preparing for courtroom appearances, they can manage court dates scheduled for you and help you prepare for every courtroom appearance.
- Consultation. Perhaps you feel confident handling your divorce on your own but want specific legal advice for some aspects of your case. Limited scope representation may only extend to preparing you for the process and providing baseline guidance for what you are likely to encounter in your proceedings.
- Courtroom representation. It’s not uncommon for divorcing spouses to negotiate the terms of their divorces privately before moving to litigation to handle outstanding issues and finalize the process. Limited scope representation can be ideal for you if you need an attorney only to assist you in the courtroom at the end of your divorce case.
- Expert witness testimony. Attorneys typically have expansive networks of professional contacts who assist their clients as expert witnesses. If your divorce involves one or two technical or complex issues that require input from relevant experts, a limited scope attorney can coordinate the expert witness consultation or testimony you require.
These are just a few examples of how limited scope representation may come into play in a divorce case, allowing a divorcing spouse to approach their divorce case with greater confidence while incurring lower legal fees.
Tips for Minimizing the Financial Impact of Divorce
When most people consider limited scope representation, they are essentially looking for “a la carte” legal services without committing to more expansive (and more expensive) legal representation. If you want to minimize the financial impact of your divorce, you may not have much control over the outcome of your property division determination, but you do have control over how much you pay for the legal counsel you will require to navigate the divorce process successfully.
If you want to minimize the amount you must pay in legal fees during divorce, it’s vital to do your research when it comes to locating attorneys who can provide limited scope services to you. Determine which aspects of your divorce will require professional legal services and the attention of an attorney. A good attorney should provide you with an accurate breakdown of the services they can provide, and which services will be most valuable to you based on the unique details of your situation.
At Bickford, Blado & Botros, we routinely help clients with their divorce cases and other family law matters in California. We understand how stressful some of these experiences can be and do whatever we can to streamline family court proceedings for our clients while minimizing their legal fees. If you believe you are heading for a relatively straightforward divorce but may require legal counsel for a few issues you face, we can help. Contact Bickford, Blado & Botros today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how our team can assist with your divorce case.
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