There are a number of options for going through divorce. One of those options is getting unbundled legal services. As an alternative to the traditional method of paying for divorce, unbundled services allow you, the client, to pay ala carte for needed legal services. This can lower the cost of divorce significantly.
Unbundled legal services are not for everyone. Below are a few reasons unbundled legal services may work for you, and a few reasons why a traditional method may be in your best interests.
Unbundled services may be right for you if . . .
- You can negotiate with your spouse. Divorce involves numerous legal and financial considerations. If you are planning on divorcing without significant help from a lawyer, you will need to be able to negotiate in good faith with your soon-to-be ex. And your ex must be willing to do the same.
- You have the time and effort to spare. Divorce cannot be done well with limited involvement. If you are busy with work, taking care of children and other duties, adding more to your plate can lead to future financial difficulties and arguments with your ex. With unbundled services, you will also be responsible for filing court documents on time and keeping the process going.
- You are confident you know the financial situation. Do you know all sources of income and all debts? If not, you may find yourself responsible for debts you were unaware of after the divorce is final.
- You know your goals and how to get there. Do you know what your financial and life goals are post-divorce? Do you know the various options available to you regarding alimony, child support, custody and property division? If not, a more traditional arrangement is advisable. An investment now can lead to a better financial and family life post-divorce.
Avoid unbundled services if . . .
- Child custody is disputed. Child custody is a complex and emotional issue. A retained lawyer can help you throughout the process to anticipate and potentially avoid issues. For example, arranging holiday time so that children are involved with both parents. If you can work with your spouse, there is the potential to resolve these issues. If there are disagreements, however, a lawyer will help you negotiate with the other party and represent your interests in court, if necessary.
- You have complex asset division matters to resolve. Are there stock options, retirement benefits, or a business at stake in the divorce? These are complex issues that can require getting a fair valuation and other financial and legal tasks. Doing it yourself can lead you to getting less of a share of the marital assets than you need.
Don't go it alone
Divorce is not a do-it-yourself project. There is a lot to do in a divorce and a significant amount at stake. Failing to plan for all of the financial and legal ramifications of divorce can cost you time, stress and expense later. However, in some cases a divorce can be less expensive if you use unbundled services. Speak to a lawyer to discuss whether unbundled services are right for you.