Modest Means Program | Frequently Asked Questions

To Find Out if You Qualify for a San Diego Family Lawyer click here.

The Modest Means Program is designed to assist clients who are having a family law dispute and are able to pay for legal services but have limited financial resources available. The LRIS uses the Modest Means Program to connect low-income individuals with family law attorneys using a step-by-step process.

Here are some of the most common questions about the program and finding low-income family law attorneys:

What types of cases are taken under the Modest Means Program?
The Modest Means Program is designed to assist clients who have simple family law issues, such as:

  • simple divorce without a trial
  • child support 
  • modification of child support
  • spousal support (NO QRDOS)
  • child visitation
  • modification of visitation
  • legal separation
  • move away orders
  • restraining orders/family court only
  • annulments
  • child custody
  • modification of child custody (NO CPS CASES)

How long will the pre-screening process take and what types of questions will you be asking me?
The pre-screening process will take about 5-10 minutes. If you would like to see to pre-screening sheet, please click here.

How much does a San Diego family lawyer cost?
Modest Means attorneys will charge a $1000.00 retainer (that is the upfront fee to start the case) and a $75.00 hourly rate for services rendered. This applies whether the client has zero income or meets the income guideline.

How long does it take for the Financial Eligibility Worksheet application to process?
Forty-eight hours once the application, bank statements (3 months), and three pay stubs are received in our office.

What if I don't like the referred attorney?
With a reasonable explanation, we will refer you to another low-income family law attorney through the Modest Means Program (3 per case).

Is the attorney knowledgeable in this area of law?
Our attorneys are properly screened and approved through the LRIS committee and have had previous family law experience.

What if I don't have any money?
Attorneys with the Modest Means Program charge a $1000.00 retainer and $75.00 hourly rate for services. If you cannot afford the $1000 retainer, then we will refer you to either the Legal Aid Society of San Diego, Family Justice Center, or Family Law Facilitator’s office located at the county courthouses.

What if I live out of state but my case is in San Diego?
Most of our family lawyers will accept the case if you live out of state and the family law matter is within San Diego County.

What if my son or daughter is in the military and outside of the country? Can I call on their behalf to see if they qualify for a low-income family attorney? 
Yes, we can give you the LRIS e-mail address so that the servicemember can complete the application. Please note that we only go by the servicemembers' base pay. Most Modest Means attorneys will accept military cases, and some will communicate through email or telephone to the client.

Do I have to be in court if I hire the attorney?
Those are questions that the client should address to the attorney. We are not legal advisors and therefore cannot give out advice.

Will the attorney accept credit cards for the initial retainer fee?
Yes, some attorneys do, but you would have to consult with the attorney on payment arrangements.

How do I apply for a San Diego family lawyer referral through Modest Means?
You will need to call the LRIS at (619) 231-8585 or start an online chat to begin the qualification process.

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Disclaimer: The information contained in the following articles on various subject areas of law is to aid your general understanding of these issues only.  This information does not constitute legal advice and should not be depended upon for that purpose. 

The Courts, sometimes referred to in these articles, may change procedures, available services, hours of operation, availability of classes, etc., at any time.  Additionally, laws are constantly changing and may at any time render the information in these articles obsolete.  For legal advice please consult and hire an attorney from LRIS.