Unbundled Services / Family Law Coach


Unbundled services or family law coaching refers to hiring a lawyer to give advice or provide assistance with just one part of a case, but not having that lawyer “go on record’ to handle the whole case. John Schuman and his team offer these services. Read more about them below and sign up for unbundled services or family law coaching at the bottom of this page.

Many people find the costs associated with hiring a family law lawyer after separation or for a divorce daunting. Yet, that is a time when decisions are most important and they can have an impact on the rest of your life. Decisions in family law matters can affect whether you have a relationship with your kids, or how much money you have – for the rest of your life. Making the wrong decision early on can be difficult to fix later – and cost much more than doing the right thing in the first place.

But, what can a separated spouse do when he or she just does not have thousands of dollars to spend on a family law lawyer? In some circumstances, it may be possible to get a wealthy ex-spouse to pay for those fees upfront. In many circumstances, it makes sense to get some limited help from a lawyer.

Traditionally, people have hired lawyers to take on their case and handle every aspect of it. The lawyer’s professional skill, judgment and experience guide every aspect of the case and take away a lot of the work and stress from the client. But, “going on the record” as a person’s lawyer also creates a lot of obligations for the lawyer and to cover the costs of those obligations, lawyers need money upfront – a retainer – that is usually many thousands of dollars.

Types of Unbundled Services

  • provide “coaching” to tell a person what their options are and what is likely to work best in a particular situation
  • assist with developing parenting plans or advising on terms in custody/access agreements for children 
  • assist with preparing a financial statement
  • draft court documents for the next appearance
  • assist with service and filing of documents
  • attend at negotiations or a mediation
  • attend a single court appearance as your “agent”
  • assist “behind the scenes” during a trial with the preparation of a case
  • help with determining what disclosure is necessary and how to organize and provide it,
  • draft a separation agreement, or give independent legal advice on a separation agreement,
  • Assist with calculating child support, figuring out obligations for child support for adult children, or
  • do any of several tasks particular to the case

Often, after discussing your case, a lawyer will be able to quote a price for doing one particular aspect of a case. It is not possible to provide a fixed fee for an entire case because how long an entire case takes, in large part, depends on how much one or both spouses want to fight. But, lawyers can often give you a price for drafting an affidavit, going to a mediation, or doing any of several discreet tasks. That can allow you to decide whether you want a lawyer to help you with one step in your case or not. It can also give you complete control over how much you spend, as you can pay a lawyer a set amount for a particular task and then stop. Read below for how we do unbundled services.

However, keeping a lawyer involved, even just to give you advice as you run your own case, can help you avoid making a lot of costly family law mistakes, some of which are set out in the video below:

But, if you are going to just use a lawyer to help with specific tasks, that lawyer may not have the “big picture” on your case, since you are running it yourself. In this situation, it is important for you to have the big picture by knowing a bit about how the family law processes work and having a good understanding of the various legal issues that apply to your case. It is a good idea to get a consult with a top family lawyer to give you an explanation of how family law works in your circumstances. You can get also get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, how family court works, and how mediation, arbitration and collaborative practice work, by downloading this $9.99 e-book for KindleKobo, or iPad/iPhone/Mac or ordering the paperback version.


Step 1 – Let’s meet.

Helping people with part of their case means understanding the case to make sure that every client is getting the best and most appropriate services while making sure the client understands all of their options and the likely outcomes. That means meeting to understand each person’s unique situation and figuring out what is best for that particular situation. 

We prefer to meet in person because then we can go over any documents, we can give you our advice in writing, and we can give you some useful documents, including the Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law. We also need you to fill out some forms required by the Law Society of Upper Canada to verify that people are who they say they are. Even if you want a telephone consult, we need you to complete the forms (which you can get by clicking here) and click submit at the end of the form) and then email us copies of a least two pieces of ID with your name, photo and address on them. (Please note, we are not retained as your lawyers until we have both signed a retainer agreement.)

Our consultations typically last 60 to 90 minutes. In that time, we will go over your situation, discuss all your options, formulate a plan for moving forward, go over documents as necessary and give you our advice about what you should be doing next in writing. Everyone who has had one of our consults found it to be a very full meeting with lots of useful information. John charges a reduced rate for his consultations. His colleagues do consultations at lower rates too. The price includes a copy of John’s Book and a package of other documents and information, tailored to your situation. Where possible we try to have you meet two lawyers so you can choose the lawyer who is the best fit your you, your situation, and your budget.

To set up that meeting, call us at 416-446-5869, email us, or use the contact form at the bottom of this page to send us a message.

Step 2 – Put the Plan in Place

You will leave a consultation with an understanding of what you need to do next – and a written outline of that plan. If you want to “retain us” to handle your case completely, then we will take over most of the tasks from there. If you want us to help you with specific tasks, or family law coaching, we will give you an estimate or quote on the fees.

We can’t give you a price in advance of the meeting because family law matters vary in terms of how complicated they are, how difficult one (or both) spouses want to be and how much work will be required. Whether separated spouses choose, court, arbitration, mediation, collaborative law, or negotiation has a huge impact on fees. The video below explains what makes some family law cases more expensive than others.

Regardless of what is going on with your particular matter, we will give you an estimate of what the next steps will cost or, if you choose unbundled services, you can set a budget. 

Step 3 – Come Back As You Need

Even if you choose unbundled services, you do not have to use lawyers who do not know you or your case. You can make an appointment to come back and get further assistance as your case moves forward. You will see lawyers who know the background of your case and, after you provide an update, we can give you informed advice about what you should do next, and help you with your case in the manner that you chose and that best fits your budget.

Additionally, if you find your case has become too daunting, is consuming too much of your time, or if you feel that you need skilled advocacy full-time, you can always retain us to take over your case entirely,

To start getting the help you need to protect yourself (and your kids) through separation, divorce, Family Court, or ay other process, call us at 416-446-5869 or fill out this form: