Most lawyers are good at presenting themselves as confident and competent legal counsel, even if that isn’t really the truth. Additionally, some law firms hire smooth talkers to retain clients during consultations just to fall short when the client’s case becomes particularly rough. The family law industry is full of several types of firms, but here we will discuss the differences between limited-scope and full-service law firms. If you are seeking family law representation, it’s crucial that you understand what you would be signing up for with each. When you’re ready to schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced Arizona family lawyers, click here or call 602-509-0955.
What Is Limited Scope? What Is Full Service?
Most people assume that if someone retains a family law firm, that firm will assign a lawyer to represent them in all of their family law legal matters. However, this isn’t necessarily the case with all family law firms. Some firms can only handle certain matters within and related to divorce and family law. For example, a divorce lawyer should be familiar with the ins and outs of property division negotiation, setting up a parenting plan, and calculating child and spousal support. But there are several special issues that can exist within what may seem like a “standard divorce’ on its face. A limited-scope firm may or may not have the resources and capabilities to deal with these specialized issues. For example, a wife may discover that her husband was hemorrhaging community property funds on an affair partner, gambling, vacations, etc., shortly before the divorce. This is known as marital waste, and theoretically, the other spouse should be compensated for the other spouse’s marital waste during property division. A limited-scope attorney may not be seasoned in this particular area, not know the type of evidence to track down, and ultimately let funds slip through the cracks that otherwise could’ve gone to their client. Some matters may force an unprepared attorney to withdraw altogether.
You may think you need a relatively simple and standard divorce only to find out there are several issues underlying your situation. Some of the services that a full-service Arizona family law firm should offer include:
- Dissolution of marriage
- Legal separation
- Child custody
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Property division
- Grandparents’ rights
- Child support modification
- Child custody modification
- Court order enforcement
- Protective orders
To avoid the issues that limited scope family law representation can bring, start your search for legal counsel with an experienced full-service Arizona family law firm. To schedule your free consultation with one of our dedicated Arizona divorce lawyers, call 602-509-0955 or click here.
Limited Scope Representation Can Damage a Family Law Case
Limited scope representation can have a negative effect on a family law case in several ways. As mentioned above, a limited-scope family lawyer may not have the knowledge to look out for specific issues in divorce and custody matters of which a full-service family lawyer may be more aware. When this type of knowledge is missing from the start, your entire case may be strategized in a way that doesn’t turn out well for specialty issues. In the example above, the limited-scope lawyer may not be familiar with marital waste, which could decrease the number of assets the lawyer could win for their client during the property division. A limited-scope attorney might not be able to handle orders of protection and other issues surrounding domestic violence. You may desire or be required to participate in mediation in an attempt to settle your negotiation, which can always be assisted by the guidance of an experienced divorce lawyer. The ways in which a family lawyer’s scope could be limited are almost endless.
Limited scope representation doesn’t just damage a family law case at the beginning. The biggest potential issue is if an unexpected issue arises out of the family law matter that the attorney is unequipped to handle. For example, let’s say a divorce attorney helped a father reach a 50/50 custody agreement for his children with his ex-wife. The Tucson family lawyer knew that the husband was leaving the wife due to an alcohol addiction but failed to include any provisions reflecting this in the custody orders or fight for primary custody. A few months later, things are bad and the father wishes to gain full custody of his children for their own good. Unfortunately, his divorce lawyer doesn’t handle emergency child custody modifications. Here, the lawyer might withdraw, leaving the father on his own to either retain a new lawyer at the last minute or figure out how to petition for emergency custody on his own. A full-service attorney would be able to jump in and petition the court for custody quickly, and possibly more convincingly than a non-lawyer parent could do on their own. Essentially, hiring a limited-scope family law firm leaves the client at risk of being abandoned.
What to Look Out For During Your Consultation
The best salespeople can sell anything, whether or not they’re truly qualified and knowledgeable on the topic, including legal services. Unfortunately, what this translates into in a legal context is false expectations during the legal process and possible loss of legal representation in the midst of a legal issue. Unless you or someone close to you has a great deal of experience working for law firms, it can be tricky to discern a full-service law firm from one that is actually limited in scope. During your initial consultation- keeping in mind that this begins with the legal professional, not with the receptionist who schedules your appointment- some of the questions you may want to ask include:
- Which specific types of family law matters does your firm handle and not handle?
- What is the name of the attorney or attorneys who may be assigned to my case?
- Where is your office(s) located?
- Do the people who answer your phones work in the office with you or in a call center?
- What types of unexpected issues have you seen arise in cases similar to mine?
- Why do you typically withdraw from your family law cases?
- How long have you and your staff been working in Arizona family law?
- How long do you expect my case will take from start to finalization?
Just as there are things to look for during your consultation, there are also things to avoid. Before conducting a consultation, a family law firm should always run a conflict check. This is to avoid ethical issues of consulting with both parties in a legal matter, especially if one of the parties retains as a client. A money-hungry firm less concerned with proper family law practices may forget this step. Another thing to look out for is sure-fire guarantees in your family law matter’s outcomes. Yes, there are laws that should make it clear how family law matters will turn out in Arizona. However, in practice, family law matters are rarely black and white like the letter of the law. Sometimes the evidence doesn’t fully portray what is going on behind the scenes, sometimes the judge may seem to have it out for one of the parties, and sometimes things just don’t work out as expected. Lawyers have an ethical obligation to avoid 100% guarantees- if you hear them during your family law consultation, you just might be talking to a salesperson. To schedule a free consultation with a real family law professional rather than a salesperson, click here or call our Phoenix divorce team at 602-509-0955.
Trust The Professionals With Your Case- Call Our Firm For Your Free Consultation
Many family law attorneys get into the industry because they are passionate about helping families, oftentimes because they’ve gone through stressful family law situations themselves. And some law firms form because they want to turn a quick profit with little regard for their clients’ welfare. Family law matters are vitally important- your life savings, rights to your children, and more could all be at stake. Don’t trust all of this with someone who could abandon your case in your hour of need. At Phoenix Divorce Attorneys, we will thoroughly handle your case from start to finish. Our lawyers offer honest and reliable full-service family representation for Arizona families. Get started today with your free consultation by calling 602-509-0955.
Phoenix Family Law Office
668 N. 44th St., Ste 320
Phoenix, AZ 85008
Scottsdale Family Law Office
7135 E. Camelback Rd, Ste 230
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Avondale Family Law Office
12725 W. Indian School Rd, Ste E-101
Avondale, AZ 85392
Mesa Family Law Office
1731 W. Baseline Rd., Ste 100
Mesa, AZ 85202
Glendale Family Law Office
20325 N. 51st Ave., Ste 134
Glendale, AZ 85308