Pro Bono News

A Divorce Without Lawyers is Hard. Does it Have to Be? (PA)

Monday, June 03, 2019

A Divorce Without Lawyers is Hard. Does it Have to Be?

"Imagine you need a divorce, but you've heard it costs a fortune to hire an attorney. Money's already tight as it is, now that you've separated from your partner, so you decide to represent yourself in court. There's no kids and not much property after a short marriage that both of you want to end.

How much of a difference would a lawyer make anyway?

The answer is "too much," according to a November 2018 study by Harvard Law School's Access to Justice Lab.

Titled "Trapped in Marriage," the three-year study found that when a legal aid group directed low income divorce-seekers in Philadelphia County to use self-help materials, just 5% managed to end their marriages, unless they ended up with legal counsel or their spouse initiated the suit.

Those offered volunteer pro bono lawyers were five times more likely to get divorced in the same time frame. Jim Greiner, a Harvard Law professor and co-author of "Trapped in Marriage," said the vast disparity can't be explained by those who claim divorces that may seem simple are actually complex due to child custody, support and alimony issues..."

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