I can’t practice law in California since I’m not licensed in this state, but it doesn’t hurt to look at the competition. And there’s plenty of them.

A quick Google search for the terms “California Divorce” leads to an impressive list of services that promise to get you divorced for $200; mostly online versions of forms you can get for free from the California court system. All they do is ask a series of generic questions and fill in the forms for you, like TurboTax.

Slightly more interesting (and relevant) is californiadivorce.info, operated by a partner at Dishon & Block, a family law firm practicing in Southern California. Unlike other law firm’s websites, it actually offers a bit more ‘meaty’ information than most law firm websites about divorce in general. Most of the articles are written by Dishon, and link back to his firm’s website as well as “EndSpousalSupport.com”. Taking advantage of the misconception that alimony lasts forever (not normally in Hawaii, and from his website, apparently not in California either), he bring them in on a sales pitch to drum up business – end paying your ex! A creative way of getting his name out there and bring in the clients, similar to another firm I saw in Hawaii that used a published book.

However, you’d get more bang for your reading time looking at http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov on how to fill out the form. But it’s really the nuances that makes the lawyer useful, and compared to the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii’s divorce clinic, neither the law firm websites nor government sources really offers a comprehensive ‘guide’ to the true pro se looking to get divorced. It’s also not that clear, at least to the pro se, just exactly how property is divided. Everyone starts off thinking it’s all about arguing in order to get the property, when it’s not so much arguing as deciding what kind of property it is…. like when a car was purchased, or if a house was brought into the marriage, or if it’s a community property state like California and how that affects an out-of-state property. As opposed to “eh, brah, those dishes should be mine cuz they’re $200!”

And then there are people who don’t have children or complicated finances, who don’t really need to hire lawyers to get their divorce done but could use the help – if it didn’t cost them a arm and a leg. Nothing really for them – although maybe Nolo Press has something printed for them. Haven’t checked yet.

Looks to be a crowded field. It’s too bad, really – with more education, one could really improve the law literacy of the public in general and improve the perception of the practice of law. But everyone’s out to make a buck, so all that knowledge and information becomes hidden.

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