A family law matter can be paperwork intensive and the steps can be intimidating to those not familiar with the legal process. All of California's Courthouses have a Family law Facilitator that can offer assistance to the self-represented litigant throughout the legal process for whatever stage your case may be at. Although they do their best to help litigants navigate the process and access the correct forms, they are not able to advise you personally about your case in particular.
Many people who attempt the process themselves eventually seek out help from a legal professional with at least part of the process - anything from preparing/reviewing documents to representing them at court.
The Law Office of Martha G. McQuarrie offers the following services to self-represented litigants who wish to keep their costs affordable, but still need some input from an attorney:
Many times a party is able to represent themselves in a family law action, but needs help preparing the necessary documents or understanding the law behind their issue. Even just a straight dissolution where both parties are in agreement, is paperwork intensive. When you get to the more complicated issues or conflict, the process can seem overwhelming to most self-represented parties.
While a paralegal can draft paperwork for you at a lesser cost than an attorney, they are not allowed by law to give you legal advice. They may merely draft your documents under your instruction. This could result in a document being rejected or incomplete because you did not know the correct box to check or the correct language to use.
However, when you hire a lawyer to assist with the preparation of your documents, you get the benefit of getting help from a legal professional that is also able to explain your options under the law to help you achieve the outcome that you desire.
The Law office of Martha G. McQuarrie offers a level of legal services that she calls "Attorney Assistance". At this level of service, a lower retainer is required and Ms. McQuarrie will prepare your documents and advise you as to how to present your case to the court. While an attorney-client relationship is not created at this level, she can be relied upon to advise accordingly and can come into the case in a higher capacity if the need arises.
If you have been handling your case yourself, but now find yourself at a point where a court hearing is looming, you may worry that you might not find your voice at the actual hearing or get confused. You may want an attorney to represent you at court just for a specific issue. This is where Limited Scope Services come in.
An attorney can be retained for just one issue in a case and only work on that issue. For example, when children are part of a dissolution or paternity action, the issues of child custody, child visitation and child support are all at issue. You may feel confident handling the child support portion of the case, but too overwhelmed to speak for yourself regarding the custody and visitation issues. That is when it is helpful to retain an attorney to be your voice regarding those issues in particular.
Ms. McQuarrie can help you with particular issues as needed by coming into your case for just one hearing or just one issue, depending on your needs.
You may also find yourself in a position where you are representing yourself and you and the opposing party have reached an agreement. The other party (or their counsel) has prepared an agreement or stipulation for you to review. In this case, it is always advisable to have an attorney review the document with you before you sign it.
Ms. McQuarrie is available to review your document and go over it paragraph by paragraph with you to ensure that you fully comprehend the terms and nuances so that you fully understand what you are agreeing to.
The materials contained in this web site have been prepared by Martha G. McQuarrie, Attorney at Law, for informational purposes only. The information contained is general in nature, and may not apply to particular factual or legal circumstances. In any event, the materials do not constitute legal advice or opinions and should not be relied up on as such. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon any information in this web site without seeking professional counsel. This communication is an "Advertisement" as defined by The Rules of Professional Conduct and California Business and Professions Code.