New Online Tools for Self-Represented Litigants in Family Law Cases

On September 8, 2021, the Los Angeles County Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor issued a news release stating that people representing themselves (called litigants) have additional online tools to assist them in their family law cases.  The new online tools expand the Court’s remote services and self-help services for litigants to resolve their cases without attorneys.

“Access to justice for the thousands of self-represented litigants in our Family Law courts is among the Court’s top priorities,” Presiding Judge Taylor said. “These new self-help solutions offer individuals facing significant family disputes, such as divorce or parentage issues, with convenient and accessible options to learn how to navigate their cases without the assistance of counsel.”

Available any time, an online Dissolution Orientation workshop is available in the Court’s Self-Help catalogues of services.  The workshop is educational and interactive.  It guides litigants through the relevant laws and procedures before they start or respond to their divorce case (called marital dissolution).  It is divided into seven short lessons, and the lessons can viewed independently or all at once.  It covers key topics including spousal support, child custody and support, and community and separate property requirements for service of court documents. 

When litigants have completed the workshop, they can sign up for an additional self-help workshop for help in completing their documents to start their cases.  They can also use online-guided interviews to complete the documents on their own.

According to Supervising Family Law Judge Lawrence P. Riff, “The pandemic reinforced for us the need to develop remote self-help assistance. Always on our to-do list, we moved it to the front burner.  With this new online workshop, litigants will be able to complete the Dissolution Orientation workshop at their convenience from the safety of their own home, without having to take time off from work or arrange for childcare. We are very excited to add this additional service to the array of existing self-help services available to litigants.”

Also, according to the Court’s recent News Release:

“The Family Law Division also recently added online fillable forms packets to the Court’s website to walk litigants, at their own pace, through the preparation of their judgment for contested judgments after trial in their divorce case. The packets cover divorce judgments with and without minor children. Additionally, the Court also now offers online fillable forms packets for parentage judgments.

“This assistance is critical for self-represented litigants to resolve their cases. A divorce is not completed until the final judgment form is prepared, signed by a judicial officer, and entered into the Court’s docket. Preparation of the judgment has traditionally been a challenge for self-represented litigants even with support from the Court’s self-help organization and the joint effort between the Court and local bar associations on the new Judgment Assistance Day program.

“Now, litigants are able to enter much of their information into a cover page, and that information is then transferred into the appropriate fields on the forms. This saves litigants from filling out repetitive information on each page in the packet.

“’Too often litigants cannot get this last step done after their trial, which frustrates the whole point of bringing their Family Law case to closure,’ Judge Riff said. ‘With these new resources, litigants have more options to start and finish their cases, move forward with their lives – all with the goal of bringing stability to struggling families all across Los Angeles County.’”

The new Online Dissolution Workshop is available at  Dissolution Orientation Menu (lacourt.org)

The new Contested Judgement After Trial Fillable Forms Packets are available for divorce judgments here and for parentage judgments are available at SelfHelp (lacourt.org).

More information on all of the Court’s self-help services is available at SelfHelp (lacourt.org).

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