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Can we get through a divorce trial using just 1 or 2 hours of a retained lawyer's time each month, to save money?

Santa Clara, CA |

Divorce case is likely to go for trial - the other party and her lawyer are unreasonable. Their confidence is that I'll need a lawyer for trial, I'll exhaust money paying to that lawyer and eventually come to her terms. Is the attorney on record expected to be present at every hearing? Can the respondent handle majority of the work, including correspondence with the petitioner's counsel when there is an attorney on record and use the attorney's services only at times of crises? I can ask the court to award me attorney fee, but I'm uncertain if I'll be granted the same, so wouldn't want to take a chance.

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Attorney answers 3


No. If you have an attorney representing you, then it's pretty much an all or nothing kind of deal. You can't do part of the case, i.e. correspondence, and have an attorney do the other parts. Moreover, you could be impeding your attorney's efforts. You could be helping your attorney behind the scenes, but you can't be both pro se and have an attorney.

Moreover, no attorney will take your case without having the authority to work the case the way he/she sees fit. If an attorney does not have the autonomy to practice law the way he/she feels is appropriate, it could also pose a risk of malpractice or create other issues that could harm your case or your attorney's representation of you.

DISCLAIMER: Brandy A. Peeples is licensed to practice law in the State of Maryland. This answer is being provided for informational purposes only and the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice relating to your specific situation, I strongly urge you to consult with an attorney in your area. NO COMMUNICATIONS WITH ME ARE TO BE CONSTRUED AS ARISING FROM AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP AND NO ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP WILL BE ESTABLISHED WITH ME UNLESS I HAVE EXPRESSLY AGREED TO UNDERTAKE YOUR REPRESENTATION, WHICH INCLUDES THE EXECUTION OF A WRITTEN AGREEMENT OF RETAINER.


California allows (and even encourages in situations like yours) a "limited scope representation" in family law cases. This allows the attorney to handle only specific aspects of your case without assuming responsibility for the entire case. Any family law attorney that you consult should be familiar with the concept and with the forms that need to be filed.
My Maryland colleagues response - which is dead wrong - demonstrates the danger on AVVO of relying on responses by attorneys who are not licensed to practice in the state where the question is posed.

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On this basis, your best approach would be to spend a couple of hours with an attorney before the court hearing and let him/her prepare you and organize you in terms of what evidence you have and the presentation of that evidence. Otherwise, you have no hope for things going well. Obviously, your ex has a statistical advantage having a full-time attorney available for every facet of litigation. It is not like you hire me for 2 hours and you are going to prepare everything yourself, cut yourself open and have me rush in to do the heart surgery. A very experienced attorney is going to have many tools, including time you spend on tactics that you will not have in your tool bag.

I hope this information is helpful. John N. Kitta, Esq.

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