Navigating Your Divorce With À La Carte Legal Services
About 40% of all divorce cases involve at least one pro se litigant, which means that they represent themselves. But almost half of them—a number that is still trending up—do have some legal assistance through a concept known as limited-scope representation.
What Is Limited-Scope Representation?
Limited-scope representation—often abbreviated LSR—is referred to by a number of different terms, including legal coaching, unbundled divorce services, and à la carte divorce services. Most people are familiar with the concept of à la carte as it pertains to restaurants. It means, for instance, that you can order your steak as a separate item as opposed to the steak platter, which also includes fries and vegetables. LSR is similar in concept but applies to a divorce lawyer and the legal services that they offer. You can think of those legal services as a menu from which you can select individual items, such as:
- Providing legal advice
- Filing documents with the court
- Preparing and organizing legal documents
- Representing you or appearing for you in court
Is Limited-Scope Representation Appropriate for All Divorces?
No. A contested divorce is a situation where you generally want your divorce lawyer to oversee the entire process. Even an amicable divorce may not be a good fit for LSR if the proceedings are time-sensitive. Self-representation, even if only to a degree, usually will require an education on your part, and if you lack the time for that learning, then the case is best left to a professional.
How Does Selecting Legal Services À La Carte Unfold?
It usually begins with a confidential initial consultation, which is usually provided at no charge. During this meeting, you will explain the case in detail to the best of your knowledge to the attorney. The lawyer will then assess the case and make recommendations concerning which legal services they believe that you need and which tasks you can handle on your own. You will also have an opportunity to ask questions, but a lawyer will generally require you to agree to pay for at least legal coaching prior to the discussion extending too far into that domain.
Limited-Scope Representation vs. Full Representation
Full representation involves a lawyer overseeing every aspect of your divorce from the moment you hire them—usually prior to proceedings beginning—and through the conclusion. While this approach is the most expensive, that cost is well worth it when the case is complex or time-sensitive and when there is a great deal of money on the line. With LSR, you have greater control. You pay for only what you need, and your lawyer can place great emphasis on the most critical aspects of your case.
Limited-Scope Representation vs. Self-Representation
Self-representation means that you are representing yourself, and many couples involved in amicable divorces choose to represent themselves in order to minimize costs. Some divorces that do not involve children or significant assets are simple enough that self-representation makes sense. However, in most cases, the judge will recommend LSR to both parties. Divorce agreements often have hidden complications that a layman simply cannot see but that a divorce attorney certainly will. Also, self-representation often involves more energy and time than people expected, and the cost of some legal guidance along with document preparation is often well worth it in the end.
Navigate Your Divorce With Greater Control
Are you about to enter a divorce process or already have? Do you need legal representation but want to maintain control over your case and are aiming to avoid the big costs associated with divorce attorney fees? The Law Office of Joanne Kleiner would like to help.
Joanne Kleiner has more than 25 years of experience as a divorce lawyer in Pennsylvania, and her office is located in Jenkintown. Confidential initial consultations are provided at no charge and without obligation. We can accommodate an in-office consultation or host it over the phone or via video conference, and you can schedule your appointment today by calling 215-886-1266 or by contacting us online.