Hey Self-Represented Litigants – courts are working WITH you!

As we’ve reported before, Self-Represented Litigants (SRLs) are increasing in courts around the country. In the past, most courts discouraged SRLs due to court inefficiency and potential loss of rights.

These concerns remain, but as the economy tightens, reality settles in – more people will be unable to pay for private representation and legal services organizations are already stretched thin. Without representation, they’ll continue to turn to the courts.

But where will they turn for assistance? To unscrupulous online companies? Anecdotes abound about people showing up in courts with forms they purchased online – sometimes for hundreds of dollars. By using these forms, people complete the information and pay the filing fee, which isn’t cheap. One story was that a person completed the divorce form but listed the grounds of the action as “irreconcilable differences.”

QUICK FACTSouth Carolina does not recognize irreconcilable differences as grounds for divorce. See S.C. Code Ann. § 20-3-10 (1976).

In South Carolina, the SC Access to Justice Commission is committed to developing initiatives that assist people as they enter the courtrooms without an attorney. As a result, the Commission has been working on court approved forms for SRLs in divorce actions based on a one-year separation.

And South Carolina is not alone.

According to a news report from probono.net, an increasing number of courts around the country using online document assembly to assist self-represented litigants.