When you are going through a divorce in California, you may want to handle it yourself without the assistance of a lawyer. In legal terms, you would be an in propria persona, or what is more commonly known as a pro per.

Often times people choose to go through a divorce proceedings as a pro per to avoid legal expenses.  This option may be viable if you do not own much property and you do not have any children.  In such cases, issues such as separation of property, child custody and visitation, and/or spousal support will not convolute your divorce.  Otherwise, your interests would be best served by having a divorce attorney to help you.  If your spouse has a divorce lawyer, it is especially helpful to have legal counsel to level the playing field.

If you own substantial property and have children, a family law attorney will be very important.  He or she can advise you on how the court may divide the community estate. Your attorney can also draft a property settlement to protect your interests.  In addition, your attorney can apprise you of your rights and duties concerning your children and assist you when unforeseen problems arise.  Most importantly, your attorney can counsel you on how much money you should pay (or receive) for spousal and child support.

In choosing a divorce lawyer, look for lawyers with this specialization.  In California, these are called family law attorneys.

An alternative to hiring an attorney to represent your interests for all aspects of your dissolution is a limited scope representation agreement.  Generally limited representation entails a lesser cost.

Should you opt for limited representation, you may decide on the role your attorney will play.  You may hire your attorney as a collaborative and/or consulting lawyer.

A collaborative lawyer works with you or your spouse and your spouse’s attorney to reach an informal settlement on all issues.  A collaborative attorney will not represent you in court.  Hence, you must still engage the services of another lawyer should a court appearance be necessary.

A consulting attorney, on the other hand, will work on a strictly limited basis.  The services provided may include assisting you in mapping out a negotiation strategy, coaching you on how to express your stand in court, assisting you as a second during mediation talks or helping to close an agreement (“sign-off”).

Finally, you may get a lawyer/mediator to assist you with legal information, as well as offer creative alternatives for handling your divorce.  This is not the same as providing legal advice.

Whatever role you decide to give your divorce lawyer, if you are in Fresno, be sure to retain a Fresno family law attorney with expertise in the field.

Fresno Branch:
466 W. Fallbrook,
Suite 102
Fresno, CA 93711
T: (559) 431-4888
F: (559) 821-4500

San Diego Branch:
10509 Vista Sorrento Pkwy., Suite 430
San Diego, CA 92121
T: (619) 399-7700
F: (619) 819-8400


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