Serving Legal Consumers Nationwide
Nearly every state in the union now offers government approved do it yourself divorce forms for pro se litigants. Many of the state bar associations have created task forces to focus on the consumer need for easy to use and understand forms. In our current economy, it is extremely difficult for many consumers to comfortably afford attorney fees for a divorce. Although the consumer, may understand that a do it yourself divorce is not always ideal, his pocketbook drives the decision.
Even though the forms are published for consumers, many people still need help properly preparing their forms. Despite the best of intentions, the forms and instructions are often confusing for consumers to do it yourself. Some consumers prefer to have a legal document preparer help them with their forms, just to make sure that all the “i's” are dotted and all the “t's” are crossed. Likewise, the reading level required to prepare the divorce forms is often well above the average reading level in the United States.
Besides the element of confusion inherent in do it yourself divorce forms, (or any legal forms) – people going through divorce are at a very critical and stressful time in their lives. Many people have too many other concerns and problems to be able to successfully focus on learning the information required to understand the civil process and procedure needed to complete the form set.
California and Arizona have long been leaders in their practice of certifying and licensing legal document assistants. Other states may soon follow suit, as the need for low cost legal help continues. In some areas of the country legal aid societies turn people away even though the consumer qualifies for services – there just isn't staff or budget to serve everyone. Likewise, more consumers need help than there are attorneys willing or able to waive or lower fees to help them.
Help from a legal document preparer is by no means a substitute for legal advice from an attorney, but it may well be a perfectly acceptable legal solution. The right forms correctly filled out is all many people need, so that they can end their marriage and move on with their lives.
Most states have a mechanism for indigent persons to access the legal system and have their filing fees waived. The actual process varies state to state. However, in many states the filing fees for divorce can be substantial, and many people would be forced to stay in a marriage after its over, simply because they cannot afford the divorce. In Forma Pauperis is a latin term that means "in the character or manner of a pauper, poor person, destitute, or without means". If a party does not have the income to pay for filing fees or other court costs in a case, the Court can grant the person In Forma Pauperis status. If this happens, the party will not have to pay filing fees and may have other court costs waived as well.
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