Free or Affordable Assistance
The 10 Most Common DIY Divorce Mistakes & How to Avoid Them
If you are thinking about getting divorced, you may want an attorney’s assistance but think you cannot afford it. However, there are a number of options for free or affordable attorney assistance that you may not be aware of.
7 Options for Free or Affordable Divorce Assistance:
1) Government Programs: Governments often have programs to assist litigants in certain aspects of divorce litigation. For example, California’s Department of Child Support Services (http://www.childsup.ca.gov or 1-866-901-3212) will establish child support orders and collect child support for free.
2) Non-Profit Programs: Many non-profit programs exist to help or represent people in need. For example, Bay Area Legal Aid (http://baylegal.org or (925) 219-3325) provides free representation in domestic violence and divorce cases to those who meet their criteria.
3) Employment-Related Programs: Often, employers offer legal services programs as a benefit to their employees. A couple of examples are ARAG (http://araglegal.com or 800-819-6010) and Workplace Options (http://workplaceoptions.com or 1-800-699-8011). Employees with these benefits may qualify for free or discounted legal consultation and/or representation.
4) Union Legal Services Programs: Many unions have legal services programs for their members. Examples are the Western Conference of Teamsters Legal Services Trust (http://teamsterlegal.com or 800-222-3024) and AFSCME (http://www.afscme.org/members/advantage/legal/legal-services). Union members with these benefits may get free or discounted legal services.
5) Bar Association Programs: Many local bar associations have programs to connect members of the public with qualified attorneys at affordable rates. For example, Contra Costa County Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral & Information Service (http://www.cccba.org or 925-825-5700) will schedule a free initial consultation with a qualified attorney for a nominal fee, and those of moderate means may get discounted legal services. Additionally, many local bar associations sponsor free legal workshops, education outreaches, and other services to their communities.
6) Legal Insurance Programs: There are legal insurance programs that may provide free or discounted legal services for customers or members. See, for example, LegalShield (https://www.legalshield.com or 800-654-7757) and Legal Club of America http://www.legalclub.com or 800-305-6816).
7) Court-Sponsored Programs: Many family law courts have alternative dispute resolution programs to help resolve difficult issues and other programs to help unrepresented parties with complicated paperwork and procedures, all at little or no charge. In Contra Costa County, for example, Family Court Services (http://www.cc-courts.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.viewPage&pageId=6765 or 925-957-7950) helps resolve child custody and visitation issues, and The Family Law Facilitator (http://www.cc-courts.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.ViewPage&pageId=6766 or 925-646-4099) provides (non-attorney) legal assistance to self-represented parties who have family law questions as well as provides workshops on various family law issues.
We hope the above list is a helpful example of some of the options that may be available for free or discounted assistance with divorce issues. It is not an exhaustive list. It is not an endorsement of, nor a referral to, any of the listed programs. Please contact the listed programs directly to determine whether you meet their criteria to receive their assistance.
The Law Office of Andrew J. McCall represents Family Law litigants in Contra Costa & Solano Counties, so, if you know someone who has been trying to do his/her own divorce and is having problems, have him/her contact us to discuss representation or consultation or just help with forms.