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1996: Woody Mosten on the Future of Family Law

On September 6-7, 1996, the Creative Lawyers Meeting convened.  The meeting was attended by Lowell Halverson; Stu Webb (founder of collaborative practice); Forrest (Woody) Mosten (founder of Unbundled Legal Services and author of various books on mediation and collaborative practice); Jody Mosten; Bill Howe; Ed Sherman; Cheryl Woodard; Susan Cameron; Ed Cameron; Carol Farr; Peggy Williams; and Hillis Williams.

During this meeting, Woody discussed his view of the future of family law.  Below is a transcript of the notes describing Woody’s vision, lightly edited for clarity:

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Tampa Limited Scope Representation FAQs

What is limited scope representation?

Limited scope representation (also known as unbundled legal services) is a cost-effective method of obtaining an attorney’s help on specific tasks and not paying for services you do not want or need. 

 What limited services are you offering?

Once full settlement on all family law issues has been reached via mediation, financial affidavits have been completed and exchanged, and a settlement agreement and parenting plan (if applicable) have been executed, I am offering to review family law documents for legal sufficiency, e-file the documents through an attorney-only portal, schedule an expedited uncontested final hearing, and appear at the uncontested final hearing.  These are the only services included in the price quoted below. 

 What services are not included in this limited scope representation?

 I will not be providing the following services (this is not an exhaustive list): drafting or revising documents, requesting or preparing financial and other discovery and disclosure, providing advice as to the “fairness” of agreements, discussing possible or likely results if you were to ask a judge to decide your dispute, providing other legal advice, or appearing at contested hearings or rehearings.

 Why would we want this limited scope representation?

There are many reasons why a spouse would want to hire an attorney for the limited scope representation described above, but the main reasons are (i) to finalize a divorce sooner rather than later and (ii) to have the peace of mind of having an attorney appear at the final hearing in front of a judge.

Can you represent both parties?

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Limited Representation: A Cost-Effective Family Law Option

As the economy went south, everyone sought options to trim his or her budget.  Some people skipped Starbucks and began brewing their own coffee.  Others found creative ways to recycle their grocery bags.  Still others completely transformed their driving habits to achieve better gas mileage.  But one pronounced trend in the legal community has been the amount of people who decided to represent themselves in family court.

Unfortunately, there are often consequences to a party’s decision to save money and appear pro se (represent him or herself).  I have had many litigants come into my office after attempting to proceed with no legal counsel and finding that (a) their case had been dismissed or they face contempt of court because they did not follow proper procedure, (b) they wasted their hard-earned dollars on unnecessary fees and “money saver” programs that became obsolete once the opposing party began contesting the matter, and/or (c) their case has dragged on because they did not know how to bring their matter to conclusion.  But, alas, not everyone can afford an attorney to fully represent them.

Thankfully, Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.040 provides a cost-effective option:  limited representation, also known as unbundled legal services.

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