Unbundled Legal Services

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Is The Unbundled Legal Services Option Right For You?

Based in Solano County, CA, my family-law law practice provides unbundled legal services as an option for individuals navigating the complexities of family law dynamics on their own. If you are experiencing issues related to and/or undergoing proceedings for example, divorce, establishing paternity, spousal support (or a similar situation), pursuing unbundled legal services can be a smart choice.

When clients decide to take the unbundled-legal services route, they put themselves in the driver’s seat. In this scenario, I will act as your co-pilot; giving directions while remaining prepared to jump in and steer the wheel by way of providing full-scope traditional representation should the need arise.

Clients who have received Unbundled Legal Services have been known to save up to 80% in legal fees.

I have 20+ years of experience assisting Northern California families. Learn more about my practice & my background.

What Does ‘Unbundled Legal Services’ Mean…And What Does It Look Like In Action?

With Unbundled Legal Services, clients only pay for and receive the specific services required to effectively resolve their legal matters. Once I break down the à la carte approach to family law, potential clients begin to understand why it is a favorable option compared to traditional legal services.

Ongoing Coaching Services

Ongoing Coaching Services

Unbundled Legal Services provides clients with specific services required to effectively and efficiently resolve their legal matters, at a fraction of the cost of retaining an attorney for traditional representation. For example, through coaching services, I provide clients with answers and guidance to the unlimited “what-if?,” “how to,” and “what next?” questions which are connected to laws, procedures, strategies related to marriage , custody and all other family-law related legal issues in California.

Document Review & Analysis

Reviewing and analyzing legal documents is a vital component of Unbundled Legal Services. Through this service, I will ensure that not only will you understand the significance of all the documents you will file (and receive from the other party and the Court), but also ensure that all of the documents you file in Court and serve on the other party are factually accurate and legally compliant. The document review and analysis process includes, for example, an in-depth review of existing documents, the preparation of new and/or amended documents. If necessary, I am also able to provide an overall assessment of your legal strategy.

Legal document review and analysis in California
Legal document preparation

Document Preparation

Document preparation is a key service that I offer as part of my Unbundled Legal Services. This service helps clients reduce the stress and hassle associated with getting their legal documents properly prepared. In choosing this type of unbundled legal service,I will work diligently to ensure all of your documents are accurate, legally compliant, and ready to submit to court and the other party. You have two options: You can choose to have me give you assistance and guidance in connection with the documents you prepared or you can ask that I prepare the documents on your behalf.

Limited Scope Representation

I provide Limited Scope Representation to clients that need legal representation. Limited Scope Representation is an ideal option for those who require in-court representation in court, but may not be able to afford the full costs associated with traditional full representation. Court proceedings can be expensive – limited scope representation puts you in control of your budget, while ensuring you have access to legal representation throughout the process.

For example, in a divorce case, the client may desire to represent themselves on property-division issues and hire me, as their limited scope attorney, to represent them only on custody and child-support issues. Or, in another instance, in a custody and child-support case, the client may want to represent themselves at all hearings, but hire for a trial on just the custody-aspect of their case. There are countless scenarios in which this type of service can assist you in connection with your legal matter.

Limited scope legal representation in Fairfield, CA

An Example of a Typical Unbundled Legal Services Scenario

The scenario below involving “Mary”, is merely an illustration to help you understand how coaching might work in this type of scenario as well as to help you understand how this unique service might help you with your unique family-law case.

Mary Decides to File For Divorce…

Mary contacts me saying she has little money and wants to file for divorce and is seeking to hire an attorney. I explain what unbundled services are and Mary hesitantly agrees to these services because of her fear of law and her lack of confidence in representing herself. In my first coaching session with Mary I reminded her that I am not her attorney but I’m here to help her to help herself since she is “self represented.”

During the first hour (she has paid me for just the one-hour), I get a history of her case; I learn she has been married for 15 years, she and her spouse have biological children together, and various assets and debts to divide. During this initial session, we discuss spousal support and identify any potential problematic situations that may arise amid divorce proceedings.

Mary Schedules Another Coaching Session for Document Preparation…

Mary then schedules and pays for another one-hour coaching session with me. I walk her through how to fill out the petition for divorce and other related documents. While Mary and I work through these documents on our respective computers, I walk her through the process of how and why we are filling out her papers in a certain way, answering her questions as we go.

For example, “What if my spouse does not agree with my date of separation?; Is the house his if he forced me to sign a quit-claim deed on the house?; is it true I need my spouse’s consent to ask for spousal support?” During this hour, I am also explaining and defining words used in family law because Mary needs to understand basic terminology as she navigates further into her divorce case, such as “community property,” “separate property,” and much more.

At the end of this second hour, she (or I) has filled out the initial divorce forms, or she has asked me to fill them out. If I fill them out, I’ll email them as a PDF.

Once she is ready to sign these documents, she calls my office for another paid consultation. I walk Mary through the steps of how to file the documents and then later serve documents on her spouse.

Mary’s Husband Gets Served Divorce Paperwork & Mary Learns About Spousal Support…

After her husband is served with divorce paperwork, we then discuss whether or not she wants to file for spousal support.

If yes,I will do some calculations on specialized software known as Dissomaster. Using this mandated software, I help Mary assess the likelihood of obtaining spousal support and provide an approximate amount. If my findings are favorable to Mary, she will then start with the next round of coaching. During the next round, I explain where the forms are; what the forms are; and how to fill the forms out. During this process, Mary is not only learning key legal terms, but she also is becoming more empowered with the process and less frightened. Mary’s confidence is growing.

I Help Mary Prepare For the Spousal Support Hearing…

When Mary has filed and served her paperwork for her request for spousal support, she might schedule another coaching session. The purpose of this session will be to help her understand and prepare for her upcoming hearing (such as what time to show up in court, how to check in with the bailiff, etc.).

In addition, I explain what to say to the judge – and if she asks because she is nervous, I even give her a script to type up to read. I also strategize with her, much like a football game, I help Mary understand the “opposition”, ensuring she is prepared–even if her spouse is represented by counsel at the support hearing

Mary & I Take on the Discovery Stage…

(Note: “the discovery process” is the most expensive part of a legal case. It can range from $3,000-$30,000 upward if a person hires an attorney for this process. At this point, Mary has spent hundreds, not thousands of dollars.)

Mary pays for another coaching session. After Mary’s hearing on spousal support, she will call me up and let me know how it went. She will say it was great, the judge granted her some support and she is ready to go on to the next step. In her next coaching session, I explain what is known as discovery. I will also explain to Mary that there are two types–mandatory discovery and discretionary discovery. I define the terms, the differences and tell her the forms she needs. I explain the forms in detail; review her draft documents; and answer entry questions she has. To start, Mary just wants assistance with just the mandatory forms for her divorce case (FL-140, FL-141, FL-142, FL-150).

At some point, Mary will receive her husband’s initial discovery (because it’s mandatory that they both complete this process, otherwise, she can’t get divorced). When Mary receives her husband’s documents, I assign her the homework of reviewing his paperwork to find anything that’s missing, weird, dishonest, etc.

During our review, we realize that the husband did not provide credit card statements. I then explain the various ways we can “force” her spouse to comply. Mary is surprised there are many options to enforce compliance–as he has told her many times he does not care what anybody tells him. He is not going to comply

Mary’s Case Is Ready to Go to Trial…

Despite Mary’s best attempts, she has been unable to reach settlement between herself and her spouse on her own. Thus, Mary is ready to ask the court to set a trial date on her case. Mary decides she’s overwhelmed and doesn’t want to do the rest on her own, even though she had great success along the way. That’s the beauty of coaching through Unbundled Legal Services – since Mary did not spend much on attorney’s fees for the first 7 months of her case, she now has the funds to pay to hire me for her trial, which will be expensive. If we both agree, I will substitute into her case and become her attorney of record at the time of the trial.

Under different circumstances, Mary may decide to continue with coaching and then keep receiving coaching on “trial preparation”.

The One Hour Coaching

Statistically speaking, the majority of people who contact Ms. Garrett seek only legal advice for Ms. Garrett. They are not seeking legal representation or have no desire to hire an attorney—even if they “need” one. For over 20 years, Ms. Garrett has been providing legal advice to these types of one-time callers. The number of ways Ms. Garrett can assist a person in one simple hour is literally limitless. Below are just a few, of thousands of examples, of how Ms. Garrett can help in a one-time “One Hour Coaching Session.”

If this type of consultation is your preference and will achieve your goals, please click on the link below to schedule your One Hour Paid Coaching session with Ms. Garrett. (Please note that this link is for first-time users only. Do not use this link if you have previously received coaching from Ms. Garrett. Instead contact our office directly to schedule your next coaching session. Thank you.)

Initial Questions Before Anything is Filed

  • A person has not filed for divorce yet; plans to file for divorce; and the caller wants to know what they need to do if anything, before they file for divorce . . . before they leave the house . . . before leaving the house with kids (or . . . before leaving the house without the kids).
  • A person wants to understand the difference (and legal significance) between a “dissolution of marriage” and a “legal separation.”
  • A person wants to know if they have a good case for asking for domestic-violence restraining orders against the other party.
  • A person wants to know how to determine the “legal characterization” of a specific asset (or debt) and whether it is community property or separate property. Common examples: 401ks, pensions, real-estate, personal-jury awards, commingled assets, and so much more.)
  • A person wants to know what and how to determine “date of separation.”
  • A person wants to know if the divorce qualifies for a summary-dissolution.
  • A person wants to know if their facts allow them to file a request to annul their marriage (instead of a dissolution of their marriage).
  • A person (ex parte or estranged spouse) asks, “My spouse keeps threatening to falsely accuse me of domestic violence – so I can’t see our children—if I go through with filing for divorce. She says the police will believe her, “a woman” over me! Is there anything I can do to protect myself in the event she makes false accusations against me and calls the police?”
  • And so much more!

General Questions Regarding a Pending Matter

  • A person is served with legal documents and they don’t understand them and/or what to do after receipt of the documents. (Examples: Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (FL-100), Request for Order (FL-300) (for support, custody, visitation, attorney’s fees and costs, etc.), Petition for Parentage (FL-200) , Petition for Domestic Violence Restraining Orders. (DV-100), Demand (or Request) for Production of Documents, Form or Specially-Prepared Interrogatories, etc.).
  • A person wants to know their options in the event the other party (Respondent) fails to file a Response to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (form FL-120) after their time to legally respond has expired.
  • A person prepared a draft of their family-law paperwork and they want a licensed attorney to answer their questions and review it for accuracy and completeness as well as get legal advice about their forms—which a “document preparer” is not legally allowed to do.
  • A person received their judgment package “rejected” from the Clerk of the Court and they don’t know how to fix the problem.
  • A person is calling outside the area (out of state, out of country) and they want to learn how to appear in court and/or how to prepare and file documents with the local courthouse—in preparation for their upcoming hearing date.
  • A person feels “forced” to accept opposing counsel’s settlement proposal and they want to know their rights—and the law.
  • A person wants to know if there is a way to procure official financial records from a third party when the other party refuses to produce their financial records-despite being asked many times for them (e.g., a bank records, credit-card statements)
  • And so much more!

Specific Questions About Their Pending Divorce Case

  • A person wants to know the answer to “What the heck are financial disclosures?” and what they need to do in follow up.
  •  A person asks, “My spouse just served me crappy and incomplete preliminary financial disclosures, what are my rights and my options?”
  • A person asks “ How do I prove my spouse is hiding assets?”
  • A person asks “my spouse says I have to leave our home because it’s their premarital house; do I have to leave? Can he call the police on me and have me arrested for refusing to leave?”
  • A person asks “My spouse and I have already exchanged our disclosures and nothing is happening, what do I do next to get divorced?”
  • A person asks “Are my spouse and I now divorced since we both filed our FL-100 and FL-120 and 6 months has now elapsed—she says ‘yes’ and I says ‘no’?”
  • A person asks “What the heck is a ‘Mandatory Settlement Conference” and what do I need to do, if anything, to prepare?”
  • A person wants to know if they can somehow rush “getting divorced” so that they can be remarried “because my divorce is taking way too long – it’s now going on years!”
  • A person wants to know how a judge determines community-property rights to a small business that was technically opened before marriage (a few days before) but has been primarily run and managed during their 20+ year marriage.
  • A person asks, “I just found out my spouse stopped paying my health insurance (or took me off his insurance plan with his employer)—what are my rights/options?”
  • A person asks “What are “ATROS—my spouse just told me (or vice versa) that I violated the ATROS.”
  • A person asks, “I left for work in the morning, and when I came home—the locks were changed. Does my spouse have the right to change the locks on our house without my prior knowledge or consent?”

Specific Questions About Division of Real-Estate

  • A spouse felt forced to sign an Interspousal Transfer Deed for a house purchased during marriage, and they want to know what their rights are, if any, in connection with this house.
  • A person asks regarding a house that is in the other party’s name but purchased during marriage, “I just found out my spouse is in the process of selling our house! Can they do that? What are my rights to stop it!”
  • A person wants to know if they have lost the separate property deposit to a house the parties purchased together during marriage.
  • A person wants to know if they have any rights to a house that the other party purchased before marriage, but many of the monthly payments towards the principal were made during the marriage.
  • A person wants to know their options if the parties can’t agree about how to resolve division of their home, e.g. “He wants to buy me out but I want to buy him out; or, “We can’t agree on the home’s value—we are ‘way off’ on our respective-appraised valuations; “I want the house sold and she wants to keep it for herself!”

Questions Related to Retirement Accounts (pensions, 401(k), 403(b), IRAs, Sep-IRAS, Deferred Compensation Plans, etc.)

  • A person wants to know if they are legally entitled to any portion of the other party’s retirement accounts (and vice versa).
  • A person wants to know how to ensure they get their portion of their spouse’s 401K after their divorce has been completed with the court.
  • A person wants to know what a “QDRO” is and determine “next steps” to take, if any, regarding a QDRO.
  • A person wants to know how premarital 401(k) “rollovers” to community retirement accounts are divided.

Questions Related to Cases Involving Children

  • Parents have a pending divorce case and one party wants to move, now, to another state, they want to know “what do I need to prove to a judge in order for the judge allow me to take our kids with me to the new state?”
  • A person wants to know if the amount of proposed support, as calculated by DCSS (or opposing counsel), is correct-and whether or not they have a good chance of making an objection.
  • A worried unmarried father wants to know his legal rights after having recently learning a woman is pregnant (“one night hook-up” versus long-term girlfriend).
  • An unmarried pregnant woman wants to know whether or not she needs to file a motion to establish custody rights for herself.
  • An unmarried mother to a young child wants to know how to file for child support against the father.
  • An unmarried father has recently been told by the mom “you have no rights” and wants to know how to establish parentage of his child or get “rights”—so that he can share custody and visitation.
  • A man denies he’s the father of a child and wants to know if he has any rights to challenge a request for child support from the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS).
  • A parent is scheduled for “mandatory mediation” and they need assistance, to include understanding that this legal term means, what to expect and how to prepare.
  • A parent is convinced the other parent is failing to disclose “all” their income to the Court in a child/spousal support case and they want to know how to prove the other parent has more income than what they are disclosing, e.g., how to prove the other parent is hiding income.
  • A parent asks, “The other refuses to allow me to see our kids—what are my rights and legal options?”
  • A parent feels they want to file an “emergency hearing” and they want to know if the facts in their case, in fact, constitute an “emergency.”
  • A person says/asks, “I went to a hearing the other day and ‘minor’s counsel” was appointed for our kids. What is ‘minor’s counsel” and what does that mean for my case?
  • A parent just received notice of an “ex parte” (emergency) hearing and they want to know what this means and how to prepare.
  • A person asks, “In reading the other party’s (spouse/parent) Income & Expense Declaration (FL-150, I know they are lying about so much (e.g., income, expenses, etc.), how do I prove to the Court that they are lying?”
  • And, so much more!

Questions Related to Discovery

  • A person wants to know what “discovery” is.
  • A person wants to know what a “Demand for Production of Documents” is and what they need to do to respond; or,
  • A person wants to know how to request documents from the other party, e.g., financial, employment, etc.
  • A person wants to know what rights and options they have if the other party is not providing responses or documents to their discovery requests (e.g., Family Law Form Interrogatories, Specially-Prepared Interrogatories, Requests for Admissions, Demand for Production of Documents).
  • A person wants to know how to “subpoena” records from a third party, e.g,. bank, credit-card company, HR department for employment records, etc.
  • And so much more!

This list above is just a small sampling of the many types of questions Ms. Garrett has been asked to answer over 20 years. These examples illustrate how a one-hour coaching can be used if all you are looking for is legal advice or guidance regarding your situation, but not necessarily looking for legal representation.

Unbundled Legal Services allows clients to only pay for the services they need when they need them.

Office Address

One Harbor Center Suite 320c
Suisun City, CA 94585

Mailing Address

2401 Waterman Blvd Suite 4-PMB#182
Fairfield, CA 94534