Unbundled & Coaching

What are “unbundled” divorce services?
What are the benefits of unbundled services?
Are there drawbacks to using unbundled legal services?
Should you handle some of your divorce yourself? Take this quiz.


 

What are “unbundled” divorce services?

At one time, you had two choices. You either handled your divorce yourself, or you hired a full-time lawyer.

Times have changed. Massachusetts now lets a specially trained lawyer provide limited-assistance representation, often called “unbundled services.”

Limited assistance lets you hire a lawyer to perform some of the work, but not all of it. You pay only for the parts that the attorney handles. You do the rest.

I am trained to offer unbundled divorce services. You can hire me to handle any number these:

  • advise you on the law and strategy
  • represent you in court for only part of your case
  • draft or review letters and court papers
  • coach you through the whole process
  • review your settlement options

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What are the benefits of unbundled services?

  1. Money. You may not want to pay for a full-time lawyer (who does?) or you just can’t afford it. Whatever your reason, the main benefit of unbundled services is obvious: you save money.
  2. Control. Saving money is not the only benefit. Limited assistance allows you to stay in control of your case and your life. You decide what issues to negotiate, and you decide when to discuss them.
  3. Children. If you have children, you’ll be dealing with your spouse forever.  With unbundled legal services, the two of you will have more ongoing contact during your divorce. This can build a pattern that helps you work things out yourselves, rather than relying on someone else. You don’t want a lawyer in your life forever, do you?

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Are there drawbacks to using unbundled legal services?

There can be. A seasoned lawyer has years of experience, and you don’t. Your case may have hidden complications that you don’t see. With unbundled services, you’ll be solely responsible for the work that you do yourself and for the outcome.

Then there’s court, which can be difficult, to put it mildly. Busy judges can be impatient, and parties without lawyers don’t make their jobs easier. The tension in court, coupled with a layperson’s inexperience, often leads a person to raise irrelevant issues, ask silly questions, and waste the judge’s time. This does not make for a happy judge.

For a New York Times article on limited legal assistance, read this article.

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Should you handle some of your divorce? Take this quiz.

These questions should help you decide if you’re ready to handle part or all of your divorce on your own. (From Unbundling Your Divorce, by M. Sue Talia)

  • Why do I want to limit an attorney’s involvement?  To save money (good reason)?  To retain more control over the process (another good reason)?  To retain control over my spouse (bad reason)?
  • Am I good at paperwork? Writing? Public speaking? Investigation and information gathering? Financial matters? Decision making?
  • Which of these do I really hate doing? Be honest. If you hate doing something, you’ll hate it even more and do a lousy job if it’s your own divorce.
  • Am I disciplined and organized? Can I be sure that I’ll meet deadlines? Do I understand child support guidelines and alimony?
  • Can I handle this emotionally, or am I too close to the situation to make good decisions? Am I able to stand firm and not give up too much just to get it done?
  • Am I afraid of confrontation with my spouse? Would it be better to have someone act as a buffer between us?
  • Will my children suffer? Will it take time away from them? Do I recognize the importance of keeping them out of the case?
  • Do I have the time to educate myself fully on my rights?

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