Every day in courts across Michigan, parents and spouses handle their own divorces, custody cases, and adoptions. All too often, they spend hours getting to court only to be told they have the wrong paperwork. Since a court speaks through its orders, if you don’t have everything put together properly you can be sent away and your family law case delayed for weeks, or even months, before you can get back in front of the judge. For some, hiring an attorney to help them draft their family law paperwork is the perfect balance of DIY and getting it done.
Economical Legal Help Solution for Parents and Spouses
Hiring a lawyer to go with you to court and stand by your side at every hearing can sometimes be expensive. Depending on the attorney’s hourly rate and how many cases he or she is juggling, you could end up paying $500 to $1,000 for each hearing. Not everyone can afford that. And not every family law case needs that level of attention. Sometimes, you can handle most of it yourself, and just need some help along the way.
It used to be, individuals facing family law challenges had two choices:
- Do it yourself
- Hire a lawyer from start to finish
The court rules required that once attorneys were in a case, they were there to stay until the final order was entered or the judge allowed them to withdraw. For families with limited means, delays at the courthouse or a judge’s scheduling order could leave them facing budget-busting lawyer fees that they simply could not afford.
In 2018, the Michigan authorized “Limited Scope Representation” (LSR). This offers a good and helpful mid-tier option for Michigan residents who need an attorney’s experience and guidance, but aren’t interested in full-scope representation and the heavy attorney fees that go with that. It gives clients more control over what their lawyers do for them, and how much they end up paying for their legal services. For people who just need someone to write the paperwork and a voice of experience along the way, LSR may be the way to go.
Can You Handle Your Own Family Law Case with Help?
Not every person, or every situation is well suited to an almost-DIY treatment. Divorce, custody, and adoption cases can be straight-forward or complicated depending on the circumstances, and the people involved. The best candidates for an almost-DIY case could include:
- A divorce where the spouses agree on everything or almost everything and just need help hammering out the details of their property and custody settlements and drawing up the orders.
- A custody or paternity case where the parents more or less agree on the facts in the case, but need help creating a parenting time schedule that makes sense.
- A step-parent or direct placement adoption when the biological parent agrees the adoption is best
- Would-be spouses or parents looking for help writing up a prenuptial agreement or known donor agreement.
- A family law matter where a parent needs help writing the documents but wants to speak for themselves in court.
You may be a good candidate for LSR legal help if you:
- Can keep a cool head when questioned
- Are able to follow step-by-step instructions
- Want to keep tight control on what happens in your case
Many people find they need a lawyer’s help after they have already been turned away once by the court clerk. In these cases, all you may need is someone to review what you have written and help you adjust the language to meet the court’s expectations.
Different Forms of LSR Legal Help
One benefit to LSR is that it allows you and your attorney to tailor a package of legal services that give you just the help you need. Different law firms offer different forms of Limited Scope Representation including:
- In-court appearance for a set period of time or single hearing
- Full representation for one issue (such as child support) but not others (like child custody)
- Assistance researching a single legal issue and preparing a brief for the judge
- Help at mediation or other alternative dispute resolution meetings
- Pre-litigation negotiations with the other parent or spouse
- Out-of-court consultation and guidance
- Preparing documents for an unrepresented party to file themselves
Your Law Geek offers document preparation, pre-litigation negotiation, and consultation services to parents and spouses that are interested in handling their family law cases themselves, but need a little help to get everything right. We can also connect you with skilled attorneys and mediators who can offer in-court assistance or early-stage mediation to help you resolve your case without the cost of full-scope representation. To discuss your almost-DIY divorce options with a licensed attorney, click here to schedule a consultation.