How to Get Free Family Law Help

By Rebecca Suzanne Delaney
Find a free family lawyer

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Family law issues are confusing and usually require the assistance of an attorney barred in the state where you reside. Lawyers are expensive and it is difficult for many people in need of legal help to afford a lawyer. Many programs are available to help serve low income people in need of family law help.

Define why you are seeking legal help and outline the family law issue you need addressed.

Contact the law schools in your area. Many law schools operate free clinics that provide free family law advice and representation. Check to see if a local law school has a free family law clinic that can help you.

Contact the local chapter of legal aid. The mission of legal aid is to provide representation for people who otherwise can not afford a lawyer. Qualification may vary but most legal aid represent folks who need help if their income is at or below the poverty line.

Look for lawyers that run a pro bono program. Many large corporate lawyer firms run a pro bono program. These firms allow their lawyers to donate some of their time for free. Many large firms use pro bono programs to enable young attorneys to get client, negotiation and court room experience. Although the attorneys in the pro bono program may be young and relatively inexperienced, pro bono lawyers at large firms are likely to have top grades and prestigious law review experience from top law schools.

Check the US Justice Department's (DOJ) list of free legal service providers. The Office of the Chief Immigration Judge maintains a list of n attorneys, bar associations, and nonprofit organizations willing to provide free legal services to indigent individuals in immigration proceedings pursuant to 8 C.F.R. § 1003.61. Many of the lawyers on the list help with family law matters as well as immigration concerns.

Document your financial need. If you plan to use a legal aid lawyer, select a lawyer off the DOJ free providers list, participate in a free law clinic at a law school or take advantage of the pro bono program of a large law firm, then you will be asked to show that you meet the definition of financial need. Before requesting services from any of these programs, check to be sure you qualify and collect the documents needed to prove your qualification.

Contact a local attorney who works on a contingency basis. Lawyers paid by contingency fee usually accept cases based on the quality of the case and without regard to the financial need of the client. Many lawyers do not charge for the first consultation visit. In the first visit, the lawyer will listen to your problems and evaluate your legal case. If the lawyer decides to represent you, the lawyer may take the case on a contingency basis rather than billing you on an hourly basis for legal work. In other words, if the lawyer takes your case on contingency, the lawyer will take a fee based on a percentage of the money awarded to you after a settlement or successful conclusion of litigation. Lawyers working on a contingency will not take your case if they think you are not likely to get an award of damages because the lawyer will not be paid unless you win your case. Family matters are not usually taken on contingency, but some are and a lawyer listening to your facts may be able to refer you to a lawyer that can help you with your family law question for free.

About the Author

Rebecca Suzanne Delaney began publishing in 1980. She is a university-trained artist and the author of dozens of books and articles on a variety of topics, including arts and crafts, law, business and public policy. Delaney earned degrees in liberal arts, psychology and law.

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