Family Law Information Centers: An Evaluation of Three Pilot Programs

By Deborah J. Chase, Bonnie Rose Hough, and Carol L. Huffine. Published by the Judicial Council of California Administrative Office of the Courts. Published in March 2003.

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The Judicial Council of California Administrative Office of the Courts set out to study the impact of pilot programs which established information centers for litigants in family law cases who did not have attorneys. The self-help centers were established in Los Angeles, Fresno and Sutter counties. The survey was taken from 1364 customers at the Family Law Information Centers and 24 judges who oversee family law cases.

Highlights include:

Of the Information center customers, 93% of participants found the information at the centers to be helpful. 98% received helpful assistance filling out court forms. 87% felt that they better understood their cases after receiving assistance at the self-help center. 82% felt better prepared to present their case to a judge. 83% have a better understanding of how the court works. 92% would seek help from the centers again in the future.

The most requested improvement was to increase the number of employees in the centers to reduce waiting time, as well as increase the support of more languages.

Of judges, 88% believe that the information centers are effective in getting litigants get correct paperwork filed. 75% believe that the centers help litigants be better prepare for court. 67% of judges believe that the centers help litigants understand how the law and court procedures are applied in their case. 88% think that the centers save valuable time in court. 88% believe that the centers expedite family law cases.

Requested improvements: increase staff, increase outreach, expand language support and expand service hours.

Categories: Family, Self-Help, Family, Policymakers and Funders, Researchers and Academics, State-Specific, Self-Represented Litigants

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