Monday, June 09, 2014

Some courts simplify divorce

The NY Times reports
In California, roughly three-fourths of family law litigants lack lawyers, said Maureen F. Hallahan, supervising judge in the family law division at San Diego Superior Court. Typically, people file initial divorce paperwork on their own, but they don’t know what to do next, so their file languishes for months. Budget cuts in the state courts reduced available personnel and made the problem worse.

So now some courts in California offer one-day divorce programs for people who either can’t afford or don’t want to hire a lawyer. “The reality is, people are going to do it without lawyers, and we had to accommodate that,” said Judge Hallahan.

The program doesn’t mean a divorce is truly started and completed in a single day — residency and notification requirements have to be met first. You must, for example, already have filed a divorce petition and served your spouse with divorce papers to participate.

But the program does allow you to wrap things up in a single day, or even a matter of hours, once you meet the initial criteria. “This is designed to help people get through the system,” said Judge Hallahan.

Sacramento Superior Court began offering a one-day program, created by Judge James Mize, more than a year ago, and San Diego Superior Court began offering a similar option in March. Details of the programs vary (the Sacramento program has income limits, while San Diego’s currently does not, for instance), but both are free.
Sometimes I think that the courts make it artificially difficult in order to make people use lawyers.

3 comments:

HeligKo said...

The courts absolutely complicate things on purpose. Its a den of wolves, and they need their sheep. My divorce is costing upwards of 15K a piece, and we had less than 100K in liquid assets a piece. This is how come in the end property division doesn't matter, because the lawyers are going to get it all anyway for most of us in the middle class. We could have resolved our divorce without lawyers and both had cash in hand to start our lives, and done so in a couple months not years. Instead we are debating settlements and coming to the same conclusions we would have anyway, but at a combined $400+/hr.

paulmurray said...

They could simplify matters even further by going "fuck it" and getting out of the marriage business altogether. When either partner can unilaterally terminate the agreement for any or no reason whatever, there's no "there" there.

Meredith Wilson said...

Wow, within hours? I have never heard of that, that's nuts. I know divorces are easier to get these days but even the simplest of ones take a few months to complete, as far as I knew. It's so simple that there are even places online that offer free divorce forms for each state now. http://blog.document-do-it-yourself-service.com/free-divorce-forms/