One of the most frightening aspects of getting divorced or separating from the parent of your children is the potential cost. The idea of getting professionals involved in your very personal matter can seem daunting and expensive. Many attorneys, however, offer a variety of services that enable you to reap the benefits of legal advice, without sky high legal bills.
The first thing that you should understand is that attorneys are expensive for a reason. While the majority of people divorcing in Colorado choose to represent themselves, many of those people end up engaging an attorney after the divorce is over because something was not addressed or resolved correctly in the initial divorce. Attorneys who practice exclusively in the area of family law can help you identify both current and future potential issues in your case and can help you resolve your case in a way that give you the best shot at avoiding the need for court in the future. Post-decree matters, including fixing issues that were not addressed adequately in the initial divorce, can be more expensive than having the initial divorce handled in an effective manner by experienced professionals.
An attorney can also help you make sure that you have an agreement that is actually enforceable by the court. Just because you and your ex-partner reach an agreement does not always mean that the court can force the other person to comply with the agreement. If the agreement that was reached is worded incorrectly or includes terms that the court simply does not have the authority to enforce, then you may be out of luck if the other party refuses to comply with the agreement. If paying an attorney to represent you in your case is not feasible for you, you do have options.
Unbundled Services: Many attorneys in Colorado offer unbundled services. When you are paying an attorney for unbundled services, you are paying them their hourly rate or a flat fee for the time that you ask them to spend on your case. They will not appear in court with you and will not be responsible for managing every aspect of your case. Generally, you will simply use the attorney as your consultant. If you hire an attorney to represent you on an “unbundled” basis, you can retain them for any number of purposes, including but not limited to:
- To review documents that you have drafted;
- To consult with you regarding your case and any potential agreements;
- To develop case strategy;
- To help you prepare for upcoming court appearances; or
- To attend mediation with you.
Limited Scope Representation: If you hire an attorney to represent you on a limited scope basis, that attorney may appear in court or on pleadings. If you retain an attorney to represent you on a limited scope basis, the attorney will identify the limitations of their involvement to the court and you will sign documents that acknowledge the scope of the attorney’s involvement. Limited scope representation can involve the following:
- Appearing in court with you for one hearing or for a limited purpose; or
- Helping you draft a pleading or pleadings that are filed with the court.
Sustaining Fee Agreements: Frequently, firms require a very large retainer before starting any work on your case. However, Gebhardt, Emerson, & Moodie offers something that is called a sustaining fee agreement to its Clients. The option to use sustaining fee agreements gives clients the option to pay a smaller retainer up-front and pay for their attorney’s time as they progress throughout the case. This can be much more manageable for clients who do not have several thousand dollars to spend all at once.