PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS POST WAS WRITTEN IN 2014 AND THE RATES BELOW DO NOT REFLECT OUR CURRENT RATES
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?
No, I cannot represent both parties. Pursuant to Florida Bar Ethics Opinion 71-45 (Reconsidered), attorneys are not permitted to represent both spouses in a divorce because of the potential for conflicts of interest. This prohibition on dual representation holds true even for limited scope representation.
Does it matter which spouse retains you?
As my services will be limited to mainly administrative tasks, and I will not be providing legal advice, it really does not matter which spouse retains me. However, certain privileges, such as attorney-client privilege (which keeps certain matters discussed between a client and an attorney confidential) and the work product doctrine (which keeps confidential an attorney’s notes and certain other materials related to a client) will only apply to the retaining spouse and will not apply to the spouse who does not retain me. Even so, this should not offer any advantage in a case where the spouses have already come to a complete agreement and my services are limited to those outlined above.
Are we required to have an attorney to get a divorce?
No, you are not required to have an attorney. However, hiring an attorney for the limited scope I have outlined above will give you access to expedited document filing, document processing, and final hearing dates. It will also give you the peace of mind to have an attorney appear with you at the final hearing.
If one party retains you, does the other party need an attorney?
Each party has the right to retain legal counsel and obtain independent legal advice. However, if you have already reached a full settlement, and all you want or need is to finalize your divorce sooner rather than later, and one spouse has retained me or another attorney for the limited scope outlined above, then hiring another attorney is probably not necessary.
Is limited scope representation permitted in Florida?
Limited scope representation is specifically addressed and permitted in Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.040(a), which states that an attorney may appear for a particular proceeding or matter without being the general attorney of record.
How much will this limited scope representation cost?
For the limited services outlined above, I currently require a non-refundable flat fee of $800.00 to file in Hillsborough County plus a costs retainer of $500.00. These fees may increase from time to time without notice, and you should contact me to ensure that these are the most current fees. This amount includes the filing fee that the clerk of the court charges. Any service beyond the limited scope will be additional at an additional charge.
Do the Parties need to reside in Hillsborough County to file their divorce in Hillsborough County?
No, they can file in whichever county in Florida they like, so long as at least one spouse has been a resident of Florida for at least six months.
Do you charge a consultation fee?
I normally charge a consultation fee, which is currently $100.00. However, if you have gone through mediation, mention the name of your mediator, and state that this is for limited scope representation, I will waive my consultation fee.
May both parties attend a consultation?
I now permit both parties to attend a consultation, so long as they sign a waiver indicating that they understand that I can only represent one spouse, that certain privileges such as attorney-client confidentiality only apply to that one spouse, and that the privileges are waived when discussions are had in front of the other spouse.
How do we schedule a consultation?
You can schedule a consultation by calling my office at (813) 443-0615 or filling out our contact form at www.familydiplomacy.com/contact-us.
Do you offer services other than limited scope representation?
I offer general family law services, including collaborative divorce.
What is collaborative divorce?
Collaborative divorce is a private dispute resolution option which requires each spouse to: (i) treat one another respectfully, (ii) be open and honest in his or her financial dealings, (iii) agree to settle things privately and not to engage in courtroom battles, (iv) hire an attorney for the limited purpose of helping the parties reach an agreement which addresses both parties’ concerns, (v) utilize a neutral facilitator (which is substantially the same as a mediator except anything said in front of the facilitator may be disclosed to the other spouse), and, (vi) if there are substantial assets and liabilities, engage a neutral financial professional. Attorneys hired for collaborative divorce are contractually barred from engaging in contested litigation.
Where can I learn more about collaborative divorce?
You can find out more about collaborative divorce by asking your mediator or visiting the website of Next Generation Divorce at NextGenerationDivorce.com. I would also be happy to speak with you about the collaborative divorce option, and you can read more on my website at www.familydiplomacy.com and click on “Collaborative Divorce.”