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Group offers do-it-yourself divorce classes

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Divorce is a common enough practice today that a poster in the Garfield County Court Clerk’s office advertises do-it-yourself divorce classes.Alpine Legal Services conducts the classes to help guide people who want to represent themselves through the swirling vortex of legal forms, procedures and court hearings that may all be necessary in a divorce. One three-hour class is held in English every other month and one in Spanish every other month in Glenwood Springs. Classes are also held in Aspen. The program has been ongoing for years.”Our objective is to humanize the legal process,” said Jonathan Shamis, executive director of Alpine Legal Services. Many people representing themselves don’t fully understand how the process works. They may not know what is necessary or what the concerns of the court will be. The classes aim to sensitize people to issues in a divorce and what the concerns of the court will be.”You may be concerned about the fact that your ex was irresponsible about how the lunch money was spent or whatever,” which may not concern the court, he said. The classes can provide a reality check on what kinds of things will actually be relevant.Many people unable to afford legal services for divorce proceedings and with no guidance whatsoever have sometimes behaved like “a deer in headlights,” Shamis said. The confused litigants created an incredible backlog and demand on the court system, he added, which is what the classes are designed to help remedy.In 2006, there were 372 divorce filings in Garfield County. There were 508 marriage licenses granted the same year. Other areas had fewer divorce filings: 93 in Pitkin County and 57 in Rio Blanco County.Shamis said he believes that the majority of people filing for divorce opt to represent themselves.Shamis said that Alpine Legal Services is working on starting a class on parenting through divorces. It may begin later this year. The 9th Judicial District is one of the only districts in Colorado that does not require such a course, he added. Call Alpine Legal Services at 945-8858 for more information about the do-it-yourself divorce classes.Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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