The prospect of divorce in itself is a messy affair for those involved. One definitely wants to get it right, as far as the legal aspects are concerned. However, paying for a divorce lawyer is not possible for everyone.
Many people lose out on what they are entitled to just because they cannot afford a lawyer who can represent them well in the court of law. The enormity of the legal fees plays a major role for those searching for a lawyer.
Here is where pro bono lawyers come into the picture. A pro bono divorce lawyer is one who fights a divorce case free of cost, or if not, at least at a very nominal charge. Such a lawyer may not specialize in divorce cases, however, he may provide legal services in divorce at no or little cost to individuals or charitable organizations.
Why do Lawyers Work Pro Bono?
Pro bono is the Latin phrase which translates as 'for the public good' or 'in courtesy of the people'. Under the ethical rules of the American Bar Association, every lawyer is recommended to set aside 50 hours of pro bono service every year.
Some individual State Bar associations may require its lawyers to put in lesser hours of such kind of service. Besides fulfilling the ethical obligation, pro bono cases enable lawyers to gain experience in fields other than that in which they specialize.
For example, a criminal law attorney can act as a pro bono divorce lawyer, which adds to his portfolio, for his own good. However, the urge to act as a pro bono lawyer can also be absolutely out of unselfish interests.
Even highly experienced lawyers take up cases for free in the same area that they specialize in, in case they feel that the case is challenging and interesting. Or sometimes, it could be strictly for altruistic inclination of helping financially challenged individuals, or those who have been laid off and are unable to meet the customary legal fees.
Some lawyers take up pro bono cases if they feel that taking up specific cases would be for the greater good of the community.
Does this mean that anyone and everyone can avail the services of a pro bono divorce lawyer? The answer to this question is a big NO. One needs to DESERVE a pro bono service to get it. One requires to qualify on the basis of his financial status or some other disability, to be able to avail pro bono legal services.
These legalities again depend upon those stipulated by the laws of one's residing state. The other common criteria that can entitle one for pro bono services is abuse in marriage.
Be it physical, verbal, sexual, or even if it concerns one's children, abuse of any form can help one qualify for having a pro bono lawyer fighting the case. However, one needs to present strong proof of such abuse in these cases.
Ways to Find a Pro Bono Divorce Lawyer
Finding a divorce lawyer who charges less fees can be a difficult task, as most of the lawyers fighting pro bono cases do not advertise themselves. One way to find a pro bono lawyer is to call the general practice attorneys in one's local county and check if they are taking up pro bono cases.
One can also contact the State Bar Association to find if there are pro bono divorce lawyers to take up a case. Certain firms have pro bono lawyers or have an assigned pro bono coordinator to look after such cases. Check with such organizations and legal firms to see if you meet the criteria to qualify for these legal services, for free or at a less cost.
Ask your friends and family about lawyers who are willing to offer a pro bono service. It is always advisable to look for references of people who know such lawyers, so that you are sure, that despite working for no or lower fees, the pro bono divorce lawyer would handle your case efficiently.
It is very important to have an efficient divorce attorney. Despite all the benefits of having a lawyer fighting your case for free, employing a pro bono lawyer is not completely a rosy picture.
There are pitfalls associated with it which one needs to be wary of. Many times, these lawyers do not have enough experience in handling divorce cases, as that may not be their field of expertise. It is best to do your research and talk to a couple such lawyers, if that is possible, before you are sure that you want a particular pro bono lawyer for yourself.
Consult with friends and family or those who can give references regarding the lawyer you are considering. The best help that you could do to yourself is to gather as much information about the laws regarding divorce, as you can.
This ensures that you are not absolutely dependent on your divorce lawyer and left in the lurch in case things go wrong or not up to your expectations. Make peace with your past in a smooth and organized way, bereft of the hassles.