A separation, divorce, child custody or property dispute is widely understood to be one of the most challenging events of one’s life. There is heartbreak, conflict, fear, anxiety and many other unpleasant emotions. Further, the legal process required to settle disputes is complex and intimidating which creates additional stress for those who need the support most at this difficult time.
In more than 40% of family cases in BC courts, individuals are not represented by a lawyer. It most cases, a lawyer is unaffordable, however with unbundled services you are empowered to get legal help only where you need it. Traditionally lawyers have provided “beginning to end” family law services that sees a client through the entire process and concludes with a resolution. An option to unbundle these services and tap into only the most necessary parts brings a new and exciting level of affordability to individuals. It also reduces stress, provides greater access to legal advice, and reduces barriers.
In this capacity, your lawyer is not on record and therefore, will not be required to produce commonly requested documents of your file for the opposing party. This alone can save thousands in legal fees.
Unbundled services, relatively new to family law, are now available in practically all areas of law. Clients set their budget, pay a retainer (similar to a deposit, but funds are held in trust for the duration of your engagement), and create a tailored plan that identifies who is responsible for which tasks. It puts the client in the driver’s seat but does not box them in either.
Some clients handle specific tasks very well and competently and ask the lawyer to take on a strategic advisor role or handle specific tasks. Others are not willing or able to accept the inherent stress of participating in their own interest and it is important to consider the degree to which you can reasonably follow through on responsibilities.
Most often, the best value of a lawyer’s time is in court, but unbundled services frequently include a lot of coaching – how to respond to a threatening letter, drafting specific documents, providing strategic advice, reviewing a drafted agreement and more. Yet sometimes, an unbundled arrangement needs to revert to a full-service approach and clients appreciate this client-centric flexibility.