Pro Bono News
Need a divorce but can't afford a lawyer? North Carolina created a how-to packet that can help (NC)
Sunday, October 27, 2019
- Journal Now
Need a divorce but can't afford a lawyer? North Carolina created a how-to packet that can help
"Divorce is expensive.
Just ask any of the 35,000 people who filed for one in North Carolina last year.
One Cary-based law firm said they charge a minimum between $1,500 and $10,000 to help someone file for divorce, depending on the complexity of the case.
That high cost could explain why 75% of Americans do not use lawyers when filing.
In North Carolina, more than 60% don’t use a lawyer when filing, according to the N.C. Equal Access to Justice Commission.
That’s why the North Carolina Judicial branch created a statewide self-help packet to walk people through filing for divorce if they can’t afford an attorney, said Jennifer Simmons, senior project manager of the commission.
“Our goal is to really help somebody through the process, from screening themselves to filling out the paperwork,” she said. “We want to be there to hold somebody’s hand from the very beginning to the very end of the process.”
Simmons said the commission created the packet after polling attorneys, legal aid providers, court personnel and clerks to find out what were North Carolina’s judicial needs. Overwhelmingly, this packet came in No. 1 every time.
The packet breaks down the judicial process, key terminology, rules for getting a divorce, what happens inside the courtroom and how to dress. It also provides all the needed forms.
More than 10,000 people have accessed the self-help packet since it became available in July..."