Even though we charge significantly less for our services ($10-$150/hr depending on income and family size), some people still cannot come up with money for our services or they would qualify for free assistance. Either way we let them know their options. In the Bay Area:
1. Self Help Center - Every court house has a self help center (although they have limited hours so call or look online first). The center offers classes, has packets, and can do one-on-one meetings to help with paperwork. They do NOT give legal advice. They DO tell you what paperwork you need to do it yourself, review the documents you filled out for procedural errors, and will give you legal definitions. They will not give you legal advice about your specific case.
2. Call your local bar association. Some of the bar associations - such as the Alameda County Bar Association www.acbanet.org have volunteer attorney programs. This is different than an "Attorney referral program". Volunteer attorneys will handle your case for free if you qualify. Contact the bar association for the county where your case is being heard.
3. Nonprofits- for family law the big ones are:
Bay Area Legal Aid - This is a nonprofit that works in each Bay Area county www.baylegal.org. They help in many areas including family law.
San Mateo County:
Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County - Just like it sounds, they only work in San Mateo County. http://www.legalaidsmc.org/
CORA - (San Mateo County) - assistance with restraining orders and associated family law issues. http://www.corasupport.org/our-services/legal-services/
Santa Clara County:
Legal Aid Society of Santa Clara County - http://www.legalaidsociety.org/
Pro Bono Project (Santa Clara County) http://www.probonoproject.org/services-provided/
Family Violence Law Center http://fvlc.org/ and Alameda County Family Justice Center ( both for assistance with restraining orders) http://www.acfjc.org/
Centro Legal de la Raza http://centrolegal.org/
There are others, but when it comes to Family Law issues, these are the big names out there to assist people in the Bay Area.
5. Contact the local law schools - they may have clinic programs for law students to handle your case for free.
We exist to fill in the gap - we exist to help those that either do not qualify for the above services or cannot get assistance quickly enough because these serves are at capacity. Contact us today if you need legal assistance and cannot get pro bono (free) assistance.