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Family Law Courts Need to Simplify the Process

Updated: May 16

Not long ago there was a situation where students disrupted a speaker at Stanford Law School whose views they disagreed with. The Dean of the law school sent a response to this incident that was ten pages long. This caught my eye because it helps to show what is wrong with our legal system today.

The response basically stated that it is wrong for students to disrupt speakers on campus. The question that I ask is why it took ten pages to say that. A speaker came on campus. Students rudely interrupted him, preventing him from speaking. The school administrator who was there did nothing to stop the disruptions. This is all wrong. Was it necessary to go into such detail as to why these actions were wrong? Seems like a couple of paragraphs at the most.

But this is a problem in the law. Too many attorneys are trained that there is no reason to say something in one page that can be said in three pages – and ten pages would be better. It does not make the point better, but you can bill the client more for the longer document.

This is a bigger problem in family law because so many people come to court without representation. I feel the court should make the process simple so that people can adequately represent themselves when they cannot afford an attorney. Plain language should be emphasized. Legal jargon should be discouraged by the judge.

Just like the speaker in Stanford, our courts prevent people from speaking up. It is not uncommon for attorneys to speak over unrepresented parties, for judges to make confusing demands, and for people to leave the court without receiving a fair hearing. This is wrong. Judges and attorneys need to be more patient with unrepresented parties.

Family law courts in California are trying to address the issue of unrepresented parties in family law courts. But so far, they have made little progress. Some courts and some judges do better than others. We need to see change consistently throughout the court system. Your success in family law court should be determined by examining the facts and doing what is best for all people involved.

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