Un-Bundled Services

Un-Bundled Services

Many people prefer to represent themselves in their family law matters, but appreciate professional legal help with various discrete aspects of the case, such as document preparation. In Alaska, attorneys are allowed to offer “unbundled services,” which means assisting with some specific aspects of a case without assuming full representation of a client.

Colbert Family Law, LLC is pleased to offer unbundled services to those clients who require some assistance in the management of their cases. Unbundling is a way to get the legal help that you need, while controlling the expense typically associated with legal actions.

With unbundled services, the client and attorney sign a limited retainer agreement detailing the specific legal services being purchased, and the client pays only for those services. This arrangement allows the client the flexibility of handling the parts of the case he or she can manage, and the security of being able to access legal help when it is needed.

Some of the family law services offered “unbundled” by Colbert Family Law, LLC include:

  • Preparation of qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs)
  • Drafting orders in family law matters
  • Reviewing files and offering second opinions
  • Assisting clients in drafting their own pleadings
  • Reviewing and helping to formalize agreements reached through mediation
  • Helping clients prepare to attend a hearing without an attorney
  • Appearing in court for one hearing or on one issue
  • Assisting with discovery (depositions, interrogatories, requests to produce documents)

Unbundling legal services is not the best choice for every family law case—for example, where there is a significant power imbalance between parties or in cases involving complex legal issues. In many situations, though, discrete task representation is an affordable way of getting just the legal help you need to successfully manage your case.

Colbert Family Law, LLC serves clients throughout Alaska, from Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley to remote villages. If you want to handle your family law case on your own, but need a little help, contact Colbert Family Law, LLC online or at (907) 279-5001 to discuss whether using unbundled legal services is appropriate for your circumstances.

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Common Un-Bundled Services Concerns

What are unbundled services?

“Unbundled services” is a relatively new term in the legal field.  It means, basically, hiring a lawyer to do parts of your case, without hiring the lawyer to represent you in all respects of an entire case.  In practice, this sometimes means hiring the lawyer to represent you in one piece of your case, such as establishing child support, when you have represented yourself in a divorce or custody case.  It might mean hiring a lawyer to draft a difficult legal pleading, like a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) for splitting retirement.  It can also mean paying the lawyer to help you draft your own pleadings, or to prepare you to represent yourself at a trial or hearing.

Colbert Family Law, LLC is one of a number of local firms that offer unbundled services in family matters.  You can get a much better result in many cases if you hire a lawyer to help you represent yourself, since the legal system is extremely complex and confusing for a layperson.  It will also be much less expensive than hiring a lawyer to do everything in your case.  Some things you should never do yourself, like drafting a QDRO or a military retirement order.

The best way to get satisfactory legal services is to be straightforward with your lawyer about what help you want and can afford.  If you want unbundled services, talk over with your lawyer what he/she can do for you, and what you can do for yourself to get the best result.  Some cases are just too complex or high-risk for you to do yourself.  This is also something you should discuss with your lawyer.

Should I get a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a contract about what will happen with property, earnings, support and other issues if your planned marriage ends in divorce or death.  A prenuptial agreement is a very good idea if one or both partners have personal wealth before the marriage, if either partner has children before the marriage, or if the partners want to establish a way of dealing with their assets that is different than what the law would impose.  For an agreement to be valid and enforceable later, at death or divorce when it really matters, BOTH partners have to consult lawyers.  An agreement drafted by one partner’s lawyer, and not reviewed by a lawyer for the other, is probably not worth entering into.  Also, both partners have to be willing to give the other full disclosure of assets and debts; without this the agreement is probably worthless.

Obtaining a prenuptial agreement need not be expensive and can pay for itself many times over.  Also, negotiating an agreement is a perfect subject for the collaborative process.  With collaborative lawyers, the soon-to-be married partners can meet together with both lawyers in a civilized and friendly environment to work out the agreement.

Many people fear that entering into a prenuptial agreement will cast a cloud over the upcoming marriage, implying that the marriage won’t last and that divorce is inevitable.  This fear is misplaced.  Talking about finances before the marriage is usually very healthy for the relationship, and may actually prevent problems later on because the partners talk about their financial assumptions in advance.

Consulting a lawyer about a prenuptial agreement is a very small investment in something that could prove extremely valuable later, even if the parties never divorce and the marriage endures the test of time.