The Law Office of Bardsley & Gray has been providing top quality, reasonably priced legal service for many years in the New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton and across Bristol and Plymouth County. In an effort to further that goal and meet our clients’ diverse needs, we have offered Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) since 2010.
Question: What if I don’t have money to hire a lawyer?
Answer: In the Probate and Family Court, the simple answer is you probably cannot afford to represent yourself. However, family emergencies happen whether you are prepared for them or not. If you have limited access to funds, one alternative is “Limited Assistance Representation” (also known as LAR).
Question: What is “Limited Assistance Representation”?
Answer: LAR is an arrangement between a client and a lawyer where the lawyer provides limited legal assistance on a single aspect of your case. It can be an option for people who find themselves in the Probate Court and need legal help right away. Sometimes, issues (for example domestic violence) arise in families and between couples quite suddenly. You may not have access to money or credit, or a family member or good friend who is willing or able to lend you the money you need to retain a family lawyer for what is sometimes referred to as “full scope” representation. Full scope means that once you retain a lawyer, he or she is your lawyer until the case goes to judgment or the lawyer withdraws and is permitted by the court to withdraw.
Question: When should I hire a lawyer for LAR?
Answer: There are times when you are required to go to court that it is crucial to have a lawyer representing you. When a complaint for divorce, paternity or support is started (filed and served upon the opposing party), either party has the right to go to court and ask the judge to enter orders to help them while the case is pending. The way this is done is by a written request called a “motion”. The party seeking help from the court files and serves their motion upon the opposing party. The motion must be reviewed by a judge at a court hearing where both parties attend and tell the judge why the relief being asked for is or is not appropriate. Also, you will be ordered to attend a hearing known as a ”pre-trial conference”, and you may even have to go to trial.
In a motion for a temporary order of custody and child support, you may feel that you are the person who should care for the children on a day to day basis, and that you need the other party to provide financial support so that you can pay for all of the things the child(ren) need(s). At the beginning stages of a custody case, both parents often feel they are the better day to day caregiver. The temporary order phase of the case is the first chance you will have to show the judge (who will in almost every case be your judge for the life of your case) that you should have custody. Also, once the judge makes a temporary order, there is a good chance that the temporary order will closely resemble the judge’s final order (judgment).
It might seem obvious to you that you should have custody, but the judge doesn’t know you, your family dynamic, your incomes, your expenses, your child’s needs, or any of the factors you feel support your belief. This is, as the saying goes, your one chance to make a good first impression. It is crucial that you show the judge at the motion hearing that you are the person who should have physical custody of the children, and that you receive enough support for the child(ren).
With LAR, you can hire a lawyer for just the motion for temporary orders hearing, or for any particular hearing. You can also hire a lawyer to review documents sent to you by another attorney or to draft documents for you. You and your lawyer enter into a written agreement that defines exactly what the lawyer will do for you, and how much you have to pay for the service provided. So, you may agree that you will pay the lawyer for a consultation and then to write the motion and other required court documents (pleadings). You would then go to court on your own and represent yourself.
Remember though, LAR is usually not a good substitute for full scope representation. Call the Law Office of Bardsley & Gray at 1-508-985-0054. We’ll give you an honest assessment of your case, and help you decide if LAR is right for you.