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Dangers of going it alone in Colorado family court

More than 34,000 people in Colorado filed family law cases without attorneys last year. The increasing prevalence of unrepresented parties (appearing pro se) can slow the work of state courts and has been regarded by some as a crisis.

Unbundled legal services can provide an answer in many situations. How do unbundled legal services work? In this blog, we will discuss the problems that can occur with DIY family law. Then explain the gaps that limited scope representation can fill.

Mistakes and omissions

Ending a long-term relationship may involve dividing joint bank accounts, retirement savings, personal property and resolving child custody issues. Even when amicable and seemingly uncomplicated, a simple mistake or omission of one form could mean you need to revisit the pain of the separation again.

In its June issue a Denver publication looked at the issue. The piece opened with the story of a woman ending a marriage after 23 years. Her daughter was almost out of the house and the couple's main assets were locked away in retirement accounts.

She had heard about the cost of divorce attorneys and decided to complete the forms herself. The YouTube videos she watched didn't totally answer her questions and available forms from the court were incompatible with her computer. She spent hours filling out paper forms by hand.

Several months after receiving a final order, she started wondered why she had received no information regarding expected retirement benefits. At this point, she discovered an error. One form had been missed and it required an amendment to the original separation agreement. Going through the process a second time reopened wounds that were just starting to heal.

Unbundled legal services: You select the amount of assistance

Filing a family law case is not like Turbo Tax where if you miss something the software throws up a red flag. You must also understand that court administrators and judges do not offer legal advice. In addition they are busy and do not have the time to explain how to do something.

In an amicable divorce, you may find that you can complete some of the paperwork on your own. This is where unbundled legal services come into play. An attorney can offer a review to ensure everything is correct or draft filings for you.

In another situation, you may be confident preparing the filings, but want someone to stand with you at the hearing or coach you prior to mediation. These are other types of limited scope representation.

It is not necessary to go through the court process on your own. The attorneys at Danielsen Westhoff can help coach you for court appearances or mediation, assist with drafting documents or offer consultation on the legal issues in a case.

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