Limited Scope Representation 

A divorce is like a pie cut into slices.  Each slice is an issue that needs to be handled until the entire pie is gone.  As the case slowly moves through the Court, some of the issues in a case get resolved and the remaining issues are set for a trial.

What is limited scope representation? Limited scope representation is a way for a person to be able to afford legal help by limiting the amount of work an attorney does for them – the attorney handles one or a few of the issues. The remainder of the issues in the divorce and all tasks and responsibilities associated with them are the client’s sole responsibility.  This is also known as “unbundled services.” 

In a limited scope arrangement, the attorney and client agree that the attorney will only do a certain list of things for the client.  Often a form is completed and filed with the Court, so the Court knows that the attorney is only handling select issues. 

For example, a client wants to get divorced but cannot afford an attorney to handle the whole case.  However, the client is very worried about child custody and needs advice on this issue.  The client can hire an attorney solely for advice on how to proceed regarding custody or hire an attorney to help with the issue of child custody.  The attorney may or may not appear in Court, depending on your limited scope agreement.  If the attorney is hired on a limited basis solely to handle child custody, the client is on their own for all other issues such as child support and spousal support.

Another example is when a client has reached a verbal agreement with a spouse but nothing is in writing.  The attorney can prepare all the paperwork memorializing the parties’ agreement and file all the paperwork with the Court.  A further common example is when parties have used a mediator to reach and draft a written agreement.  However, the client wants their own attorney to review the document to ensure that the agreement accurately reflects the agreement reached with the other side and that the client understands the legal consequences of the agreement.

It is important to talk about all parts of the case with an attorney before agreeing to the terms of a limited scope representation. Your agreement should be in writing and clearly state the duties that you and the attorney have agreed that each of you will perform. Also, make sure that the attorney’s fee is stated in the written agreement and that both the attorney and the client sign the agreement. 

Limited scope representation is a relatively new concept, so you may find attorneys that do not provide this kind of service. Also, you should know that not all cases are right for limited scope representations. There are some legal matters which are better served if the attorney represents the client through the entire process. You should talk with an attorney to see if unbundled services are right for your legal situation.  Also, if the case has become more complex than expected, your attorney’s role can be expanded from limited scope representation to full scope.  

Need Help ?

If you need a divorce attorney in San Diego, Imperial, Riverside, or Orange Counties, Attorney Anne B. Howard is here to help.

She ensures that her clients understand the process of divorce, including parental rights. 

The best plan of action for dissolving the marriage is devised for each individual case, and she makes sure your rights are protected.

Let Anne use her 30 years of legal experience to help your legal claim

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