Free pro se divorce clinic Wednesday

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By Michele Roberts

 Michele Roberts

For The Lancaster News

When legal troubles arise, hiring an attorney can be an expensive option that is out of reach for many. 

That’s why S.C. Legal Services (SCLS) offers several community outreach programs that can enable people to handle certain legal problems on their own.

SCLS will hold an hour-long free Pro Se Divorce Clinic at 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 23, at Lancaster County Library, 313 South White St. 

All materials will be provided and while there is no cut off for registration for the clinic, those wishing to attend are encouraged to call and register as soon as possible. Registration is required only to determine the number of packets and materials needed to accommodate all those who attend.

“We usually hold one divorce clinic each year in each of the counties we represent,” said Chisa Putman, SCLS staff attorney. “So there will be this one in Lancaster, one in York County, and we usually combine the clinics for Chester and Fairfield counties.”

The clinic is designed to educate individuals on how to proceed with a divorce without the representation of an attorney, Putman said. 

“In order to utilize the information, the party or parties seeking the divorce must have lived separate and apart from their spouses for one year, have no children, no marital property and do not intend to seek alimony,” she said. “The clinic will include forms and instructions to assist the person in the filing of the divorce action in Family Court in Lancaster County, serving their spouse with court papers, representing himself or herself at a final hearing and filing the correct final divorce documents.”

According to its mission statement, South Carolina Legal Services is a statewide law firm that provides civil legal services to protect the rights and represent the interests of low-income South Carolinians. These community outreach programs are an integral part of doing just that, Putman said. 

“Part of our job and purpose is to help educate people to handle certain legal issues that arise and be there to help them with the ones they can’t handle themselves,” she said. “Everyone should have access to some type of legal help when they need it.”

A few of the ways that SCLS is able to help people is by providing representation in judicial and administrative forums, giving legal counsel and advice, conducting legal education and outreach about rights and responsibilities (“preventative” law), distributing legal self-help materials and forms and by conducting clinics such as the one being held here Wednesday. 

SCLS can handle legal problems in the areas of education, employment, housing, family, consumer, public benefits, probate, migrant farm workers, federal tax problems and community economic development, just to name a few. SCLS receives funding from several different sources and some grants limit services to persons meeting financial guidelines, while other grants may have no guidelines but may limit the type of assistance that can be provided. Anyone interested in using their services must be a citizen of the United States or a legal resident.

“We assist those who are income eligible and fall below 125 percent of the poverty level,” Putman said. “Those wishing to apply for services can call our intake number at (866) 346-5592, Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.. We may also be contacted by email at contactus@sclegal.org. We also provide free interpreters for those who do not speak English or have a hearing impairment.”

To register for the Pro Se Divorce Clinic, please call (800) 922-3853. To find out more about SCLS or to make a donation, visit the website at www.sclegal.org. 


 Want to go?

WHAT: Pro Se Divorce Clinic sponsored by S.C. Legal Services

WHEN: 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 25 

WHERE: Lancaster County Library, 313 South White St. 

HOW MUCH: Free, registration is required

INFORMATION: To register, call (800) 922-3853.