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Family Law Navigation: A Pragmatic Solution to the Legal Services Gap

Some jobs just require professionals, even the most skilled surgeons will not operate on themselves. The old saying is “you get what you pay for” and the legal services industry in Oregon is no different. With legal bills approaching the $20,000.00 mark no wonder more and more parties are representing themselves. Although it may seem enticing to save a significant amount of money, often self-represented parties will shoulder the great emotional cost of losing in the Family Law Court because they did not have any guidance.

A survey recently conducted by the American Bar Association (“ABA”) revealed that self-represented litigants are at a great disadvantage in court, even when going up against a self-represented opposing party. The obvious solution is for everyone to hire an attorney but, sometimes even when such great stakes are on the line that solution is impossible.

The ABA pointed out that there is are very bright ethical lines that court administrators cannot cross when assisting a self-represented litigant. Even though the courts have drafted fill-in-the-blank forms it can still be a daunting process figuring out how to plead the case.

The ABA specifically recommended case navigation as a method to bridge the gap between the no representation and full representation. In case navigation, a firm limits scope of engagement to advice and document preparation. This limitation allows an attorney to provide these services at an exceptionally low rate. Currently, the Oregon Courts do not offer any services on filling out paperwork or navigating the court process. At best a court facilitator can only tell you if your form will be rejected as submitted, the Court Facilitator can only look for proper form and not proper content.

Many, but not all cases are well served by attorney case navigation. If you have any questions about case navigation services, feel free to call Affordable Family Law of Oregon at 503.782.0535 to set up a low-cost consultation. You can check out the ABA article referenced in this blog post by clicking here.