By Selena Besirevic
Choosing the right attorney for your family matter is not and should not be easy. You are in a situation that you most likely never expected to be, whether it’s a decision to get a divorce or you are in a custody battle. You are about to embark on a new journey that is not only emotional but life changing, and you need to know that the attorney who will be representing you is the right fit for you. Unfortunately, for some people, hiring an attorney is not always an option due to financial constraints.
Before you write off hiring an attorney due to financial difficulties, know that many attorneys have options for payments and options for type of representation that might fit your budget better.
- Full representation
This is the most traditional representation in family law. You hire an attorney for full representation, which means the attorney will handle the case from the beginning until the end in every aspect necessary. They will represent you in Court, they will draft and file documents for you, they will attend mediation, communicate with the opposing side, make sure the deadlines are met and tell you in detail what you need to provide for the case. They will prepare your testimony for the case, if needed, they will coach you before mediation and any hearing and will be your stress reliever.
However, this type of representation requires a larger retainer to be paid up front so that the attorney can bill against your retainer and not have any pauses while she/he works on your case. That retainer also needs to be replenished when it’s depleted to a certain amount, depending on your agreement with that attorney. If you cannot afford to pay the full retainer, ask the firm if they offer unbundled representation.
Unbundled means exactly what it sounds like: the presentation is unbundled from full representation described above to only what you need and therefore you only pay for the services you need from this attorney:
Single meeting: some firms offer unbundled single meeting. This means that you meet with the attorney for one single meeting and you only pay the attorney’s hourly rate for however long your meeting lasts. This then gives you the option to prepare your questions ahead of time, bring any forms you’d like for the attorney to review and advise you on, or anything else you might need to know about your case, such as the steps and the process. So even though you can’t afford a full representation, you can still get some clarity what to do next.
Ongoing unbundled: this option is a bit more expensive than a single meeting but still much less than the full representation. We like to call this one “attorney in your back pocket”. This type of representation still requeued a retainer but much less than full representation, and it gives you the opportunity to have an attorney on retainer to help you with anything you need. This type of representation does not offer for you to have an attorney present at hearings, this attorney will not be entering their appearance with the Court nor be able to file anything for you. But he/she can draft documents for you so you can file it yourself, she can communicate with the opposing side, she can answer your emails and calls whenever you need her and guide you along the way, just without appearing for you before the Court.
So before you make a decision that you simply can’t have an attorney because of your financial situation, dig a bit deeper and find a firm that offers these options or some other type of payment plans that might work for you. We are Rutherford Law Center offer all of the options described above and have worked with clients in the past to do what we can to help.
If you need our assistance, please call us at 303-431-0415.