Many divorces or child custody cases end up becoming protracted and expensive legal battles. For some people, this can make the prospect of divorce even more frightening. After all, the chances of a fair outcome decrease if your ex can afford an attorney but you cannot. Going through a divorce or custody dispute without legal advice and counsel could lead to an unfavorable outcome.
Thankfully, Washington courts have systems in place to help support those who can't afford traditional attorney services and fees. After finding that a large percentage of people try to go through the courts without critical legal advice because of financial concerns, the Washington Supreme Court took steps to address this issue. If you believe a divorce or custody battle is imminent, but you can't pay for an attorney, there is another option available to you.
Washington state is pioneering a new, affordable option
Washington has become the first state to provide an alternative legal support option for those for whom standard attorney pricing is prohibitive. The state allows Legal Technicians, also called Limited License Legal Technicians (LLLTs) to provide counsel and support for people in certain family-law situations. These professionals, while not fully licensed attorneys, are educated and licensed to help clients. They cannot, however, represent clients in the courtroom or negotiate on their behalf.
An LLLT could advise you about issues surrounding a divorce, such as asset division, child custody or even mediation as an alternative to court-based divorces. These professionals can also help with child custody situations involving non-married parents and a host of other family law issues, so long as they fall under Washington jurisdiction.
LLLTs are educated, with an associate's degree or better. In order to receive state licensing, these professionals must complete 45 credit hours of a legal program approved by the American Bar Association or the state LLLT Board, as well as courses through the University of Washington School of law. They must also complete 3,000 hours of experience working as a paralegal under the supervision of an attorney and pass special exams. They are competent to provide advice and help with legal forms and processes.
Anyone can choose to work with an LLLT
Unlike other services created with the intention of addressing economic inequality, there are no income caps on those who want to work with an LLLT when they experience family law issues. If you hope to quickly and simply address family law matters surrounding your divorce, working with an LLLT is a great way to ensure that you fulfill all legal and paperwork requirements.
Divorce is generally a difficult process, and one with a host of financial and social costs. Working with an LLLT could help you minimize some of these expenses while ensuring that your protect your rights in the process.