As many as 50% of all cases filed in family courts in the State of California are filed by parties not represented by an attorney. These are also known as “Pro Per” cases (short for “In Propria Persona” – Latin for representing oneself). Sometimes this is because a party simply can not afford to hire an attorney. In other cases, both parties decide that attorneys are not needed in their particular situation. In any case, a party has the option of bringing in an attorney at any time during the process, just as a party can decide to discharge an attorney and become self-represented at any time.
Access Court Services has the ability to help people file family law and related cases in all California Counties. Our job is to help clients prepare for and get into court and walk them through the process, leaving the actual court appearances and verbal arguments to the clients. While the actual Judicial Council Forms are uniform across the state, each county may have “Local Rules” that determine procedures, time-lines and other court requirements. One of the most important parts of what we do for people in contested cases is to help them prepare a “declaration,” in which the client tells her or his side of the story in a concise but detailed manner.
In the majority of cases, we like to get the basic information from you over the phone so when you actually come in the office we are ready with a draft of the paperwork for your case. This saves time and gets your paperwork processed as quickly as possible.
A large percentage of the cases we handle are for both parties who are in agreement about what to do in their situation but who need court orders or a divorce judgment. In most of these cases, the final paperwork and requests for orders are submitted to the court for court approval and no one actually sees the inside of a courtroom. Everyone ends up being clear as to what to expect from each other regarding custody, visitation, child and spousal support, division of property, etc.