Legal Aid & Divorce

By Lainie Petersen
Legal aid services provide legal services to low-income people.

Legal Law Justice image by Stacey Alexander from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

If you are considering divorce, but don&#039;t have the money to hire a lawyer, community-based legal aid services may be able to assist you. Legal aid organizations offer different services depending on their location, budget and policies. Regardless of your income, legal aid websites can be excellent resources for helping you to understand the divorce process.

Legal Aid

Legal aid organizations offer free and low-cost legal services to people with low and moderate incomes. Sometimes called "legal aid societies," these non-profit organizations rely on the services of both paid and volunteer attorneys to assist people with common legal issues such as evictions, criminal matters, consumer issues and divorce.

Divorce

Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage. While most states now have some form of no-fault divorce, in which one party can get a divorce without the permission of his or her spouse, many divorces are complicated by issues regarding finances and child custody. As a result, many people need the expert advice of lawyers when trying to end a marriage.

Education

Many legal aid organizations offer various forms of legal education to the general public. Legal aid websites typically provide a wealth of information written in language that laypeople can understand. Some organizations offer brochures, workbooks, videos and even in-person classes and clinics that can help you understand the divorce process in your state.

Consulation and Representation

In some cases, your local legal aid offices may be able to provide you with free or low-cost legal representation or consultation in your divorce case. Usually legal aid offices will require you to meet certain income guidelines in order to receive services. Legal aid also only may provide services if your case has specific circumstances that require professional attention, such as domestic violence or a dispute over child custody. If your legal aid office cannot provide you with representation, it may still make it possible for you to meet with a lawyer to discuss your case and get advice about proceeding on your own.

Self-Help Options

If you plan to file your divorce yourself, you may be able to get assistance in filing out the paperwork from legal aid services. Depending on the services in your area, you may be able to get in-person assistance with selecting and filling out the forms you need. In other areas, legal aid services contract with online legal forms companies, so that you can can fill out and print out your legal forms from your own home.

Resources

About the Author

Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.