Three Affordable Divorce Options if You Do Not Qualify for Legal Aid

Going through a divorce in California without the assistance of an attorney isn’t always wise. Procedural rules can be a real bear – failing to respond in time to a motion or order of the court, or neglecting to appear for a court hearing can result in the court entering orders adverse to your interests and desires.

Recognizing this, legal aid agencies offer low-income Californians representation in divorce and family law cases at no cost.

However, Californians whose income is not low enough to qualify for assistance from a legal aid agency may still find obtaining experienced legal representation difficult. Fortunately, there are other options available to Long Beach residents who find themselves in need of legal counsel but may not have the resources to pay a law firm’s expensive retainer fee.

Before you decide to go it alone in your divorce case, consider some of the following options and see if you will be able to find an affordable alternative to full representation.

Law schools: Many law schools across California provide legal services to the community through legal clinics. In these clinics, law students (under the supervision of licensed attorneys and faculty) provide representation to members of the public for little or no cost. For example, Pepperdine School of Law operates a legal aid clinic that provides family law assistance to low-income individuals.

Consult the local bar association: “Bar associations” refer to professional groups of lawyers in a particular geographical location or jurisdiction. Aside from the California Bar Association, there is also the Long Beach Bar Association (as well as many other local bar associations in communities throughout California). These associations may be able to refer you to an attorney who is a member of that particular bar association and who may be willing to take your case for a reduced fee or pro bono (without collecting a fee). Sometimes, these bar associations run clinics throughout the year designed especially to aid lower income clients.

Seek out low cost divorce attorneys: As opposed to charging a hefty retainer and billing clients by the hour, some aaffordable divorce attorneys offer clients a “flat fee” arrangement. In a flat fee arrangement, the attorney agrees to perform a specific divorce-related action – such as filing a divorce petition in an uncontested divorce – for a fixed fee, providing an option for an inexpensive divorce. Often, these affordable family law attorneys will offer legal coaching, a less expensive than traditional representation, where they will consult with you, assist with divorce document preparation, give you advice on what to expect at a hearing, and tell you what you need to file in response. When you only need an attorney’s services for a specific issue, this fee arrangement can be an affordable option.

The best advice is to be reasonable with your partner in order to obtain a relatively easy and inexpensive divorce. The more the two of you can agree on, the less you will need to depend on courts to make final decisions for you both.

Shoreline Legal Group

At Shoreline Legal Group we are a modern law firm offering practical, affordable divorce solutions for your particular needs. Our firm is founded on the principle that all people deserve access to justice. Our affordable divorce lawyers make attorney services affordable by unbundling our legal services into manageable steps priced at a fixed fee. Serving Long Beach, Cerritos, Santa Ana, and Orange, CA as well as surrounding areas.

Julie Resner
About the Author: Julie Resner