Whether or not a person qualifies for legal aid is not dependent on what they need help with but rather on factors such as their income, safety, health, location and whether or not the person needs criminal or civil help.
If you are the victim of domestic violence and want to get a divorce, legal aid can typically help with getting a protective order, child custody and with the divorce itself.
Legal aid may be able to help people with child custody and divorce cases when there is no domestic violence or threat to the spouse seeking the divorce.
Legal aid is free legal advice or representation for a person who cannot afford it. There are not-for-profit legal aid offices all over the United States that provide free legal help to people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Some legal aid offices are able to be more flexible and provide services to people who are low income but do not necessarily meet the typical low income requirements needed to qualify for legal aid.
Legal Aid Lawyers
Legal aid lawyers have the same qualifications as other lawyers do and should be licensed to practice law in the state your divorce papers will be filed. Legal aid lawyers come from many different legal, education and cultural backgrounds.
A legal aid lawyer is held accountable for all of the things a lawyer who is working for fees or on contingency is accountable to, including confidentiality. Everything you say to a legal aid lawyer is confidential. This means that your legal aid lawyer is legally bound to keep what you say to them private except to others in their legal aid office. Even if a court appoints a legal aid lawyer to you, your lawyer is not allowed to tell the judge or your spouse’s side any of the information that you tell them unless it is with your permission (or in some less common, legal situations). If your have to discuss information of a sensitive matter with your lawyer, which is very common in divorce proceedings, make sure that your particular situation will not warrant the need for them to contact others about your private information that you share with them.
Other Legal Options
If you do not qualify for legal aid, there are other options. While many people do not recommend it if you can help not to, a person or a couple can get a divorce without the help of a lawyer. For some people, even saving on lawyer fees and costs is not enough and many people seek indigent divorce or fee waiver procedures that allow them to file for a divorce where the court waives all of its court fees. People who see this option need to be able to prove that they are truly low income.
Learn about legal aid and other divorce related topics with Divorce Law Office LA.