2011: Do You Know What Legal Unbundling Is?

Recently, in San Diego, many divorce, legal separation and paternity attorneys have been offering legal fees and services for part of the case and not all of the case. San Diego paternity, legal separation and divorce lawyers have been representing clients for part of the case and not for all of the case. Whether your case is a legal separation, divorce or paternity, the services which are needed will be partly the same and partly not the same. For example, in a legal separation or divorce, there is a petition and summons which is the same for a paternity case. As there are no issues of spousal support or division of assets and debts in a paternity, the schedule of assets and debts is normally not included in a paternity but the income and expense declaration is used for paternity, divorce and legal separation cases.

In San Diego, there is a new limited scope retainer and representation. This is a fee for a service which can include preparing the pleadings, appearing at a temporary restraining order, appearing at an order to show cause for custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, attorney fees and temporary exclusive use of property pending a permanent order. These can also include appearing for a case management conference or status conference. There are both benefits and disadvantages to a limited scope retainer.

Many attorneys charge hourly rates. The hourly rates can vary greatly from attorney to attorney. The more complicated the case, such as divorce and legal separation, the more the total legal fees would be but the hourly rate does not change. For paternity cases, the total legal fee can be lower since no issues regarding division of assets or debts or spousal support. Some attorney discount their hourly rates so it is always a good idea to ask. As many legal separation, divorce and paternity cases can take many hours, a discount will save hundreds of dollars in total legal fees. As with the limited scope retainer, there are advantages and disadvantages to an hourly rate.

Traditional legal fees and services are on an hourly basis. Most law firms charge less for paralegal work than attorney work. As such, you can take advantage of using the paralegal for the preparation of many judicial council forms and pleadings and this will lessen the total attorney fees in the case. Services also include ancillary tasks such as copying, mailing with postage, faxing and parking. Discuss whether these fees will be charged to you in your case. In addition, part of the full service of using an attorney firm is having the firm file and serve your pleadings and you do not have to do this which can be very time consuming. Many law firms charge for the filing of pleadings in San Diego County. Ask your attorney if there will be a charge for this at their law firm. Again, if this is not charged your total legal bill will be less. In addition, one of the services includes the service of process. One way to reduce the cost for the service of initial process of the summons and petition is the notice and acknowledgment of receipt. This is a pleading which allows the person who is served to sign that they have received the pleadings and eliminates the need for personal service which is mandatory for the petition and summons without an order for publication or for substituted service. If this can be obtained, then the total legal costs will be less.

If you have any questions about legal fees for your case, please feel free to contact us and we can discuss this in a free consultation.

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