Court Compass

Divorce can be stressful.

You can help us make the process better and earn a $150 gift card.

 

Andover, Massachusetts, on Friday, January 26, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Register online or call us toll-free at 1-833-663-6177 to register and receive a $5 Dunkin’ Donuts card just for signing up. Due to space limitations, not everyone who registers will be selected to participate. But everyone who participates will receive a $150 gift card (Amazon or American Express) on the day of the workshop.

The Issue: Going Through Divorce Without a Lawyer

The divorce process was created for people who have a lawyer, but these days, many Americans cannot afford to hire one. Large numbers of people are choosing to represent themselves in court. More than 76% of family law cases in state court now involve at least one self-represented party.

We understand that divorce is a hard process. And it is even harder when you don’t have a lawyer to help you. Laws are too complicated and court rules can be confusing. Most courts have created at least some resources for self-represented litigants, but there is still little guidance for those without attorneys.

The Solution: Court Compass

IAALS created Court Compass to help people dealing with divorce on their own. The goal is to offer online services and information that guide people through the divorce process in a way that best serves their individual needs.

The Opportunity: Be Heard and Change the System

Court Compass begins by focusing on the family. Working with experts at Stanford University and Northeastern University, we have created team-based workshops to give people who have gone through the divorce process an opportunity to share their experiences with the legal process and their ideas about how the system could be made better. We want to bring all points of view into the conversation, so the teams will also include judges, court clerks, lawyers, and others who will hear directly from people who have gone through the divorce process. We will then use this feedback and the ideas we receive at the workshop to simplify and improve the current system.

More Information

The workshop will take place in Andover, Massachusetts, on Friday, January 26, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A specific location will be announced to those selected to participate.

For more information on the Court Compass project, you may want to read one or more of our research reports and other similar studies related to improving the civil justice system for people who represent themselves in court.

Frequently Asked Questions

Court Compass is a project created by IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver. The purpose is to understand the experiences of individuals going through the divorce process without the assistance of a lawyer for some or all of their case, with the goal of making the process simpler and easier for others.

If you have questions about Court Compass, please review the frequently asked questions below. Feel free to email (CourtCompass@du.edu) or call us directly (toll free, 1-833-663-6177) with questions.

  1. What is IAALS?
  2. Am I automatically included in the Court Compass workshop if I register for it?
  3. Who can participate in Court Compass?
  4. I had a lawyer at the beginning of my case but decided partway through to go it alone. Am I still considered a self-represented litigant?
  5. I was represented by a lawyer in my case from start to finish. Can I participate in the workshop?
  6. Is Court Compass a research project?
  7. How do I participate in the workshop?
  8. Why should I participate?
  9. What does participation entail?
  10. Will the workshops be recorded?
  11. Will I be paid to participate?
  12. How long will the workshop take?
  13. What is IAALS going to do with the information that comes out of the workshop?
  14. How is IAALS going to protect my personal information?
  15. Will Court Compass identify me personally?
  16. Can you help with my current case?
  17. There isn’t a workshop in my area. Can I still provide my input?

What is IAALS?

IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, is a national, independent research center at the University of Denver dedicated to improving the civil justice system for all Americans.

Am I automatically included in the Court Compass workshop if I register for it?

Not everyone who registers will be able to participate in the workshop, due to space restrictions. Only those who participate in the workshop will receive the $150 gift card. However, the $5 Dunkin Donuts gift card is yours to keep just for taking the time to register. We will review registration information for each person and inform you if you have been selected to participate

Who can participate in the workshop?

In order to participate in the Court Compass workshop, you must:

  • Be 18 years old or older;
  • Consent to be photographed as well as video and audio recorded throughout the day;
  • Have recently gone through a divorce in the past five years; and
  • Have represented yourself without an attorney for at least part of your divorce.

Aside from these basic requirements, we will also be looking for a diverse group of people to serve as team members, so we can get as complete a view as possible about what the process has been like for a variety of people.

I had a lawyer at the beginning of my case but decided partway through to go it alone. Am I still considered a self-represented party?

Yes, for purposes of Court Compass you are considered a self-represented party if you represented yourself for at least some parts of your case, even if you had a lawyer for other parts.  

I was represented by a lawyer in my case from start to finish. Can I participate in the study?

No. The Court Compass workshop is only for self-represented parties -- people who have represented themselves for some or all of their divorce case.

Is Court Compass a research project?

Yes. Court Compass is a research project involving researchers at the University of Denver, Northeastern University, and Stanford University.

To participate in a workshop, you must consent to participate in the research as well. If you are selected to participate in the workshop, we will share the consent form with you in advance. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about the research prior to, during, or after the workshop. For more information about the research, please contact Logan Cornett, IAALS Senior Research Analyst (logan.cornett@du.edu).

How do I participate in the workshop?

To get started, please click here or call toll-free 1-833-663-6177 to speak directly with a member of our team. You may also email us at CourtCompass@du.edu with any questions. After you register for the workshop, we will send you a link to your $5 gift card from Dunkin’ Donuts within one business day.

Why should I participate?

Divorce can be stressful, and the system was not made with the needs of everyday people in mind. We want judges, court clerks, and lawyers to hear from you, and we need your ideas and experiences to help fix the divorce system. This is your opportunity to speak directly to people who can and want to improve the divorce process for everyone.

What does participation entail?

If selected, you will be part of a team that will work together to discuss what does and doesn’t work well in the divorce process, and come up with ideas to fix the system.

Will the workshop be recorded?

Yes. All workshops will be video and audio recorded, and we will be taking photographs throughout the day. We may use the recordings in future publications and presentations, upload them to the IAALS website, or present them in other media.

Will I be paid to participate?

If selected to participate, you will receive a $150 gift card on the day of the workshop. Participants will be able to choose between an Amazon gift card and an American Express card.

How long will the workshop take?

The workshop will be a full day event, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

What is IAALS going to do with the information that comes out of the workshop?

The ideas that each team comes up with during the workshop will be used to simplify and improve the current divorce system. IAALS will use the information to recommend changes and work with courts to streamline and improve the system.

How is IAALS going to protect my personal information?

Your name and personal information will be kept in a secure location accessible only to members of the Court Compass team.

Will Court Compass identify me personally?

No. The information you provide will be kept strictly confidential.

Can you help with my current case?

We cannot give you any legal advice. Court Compass will explore your experience with the legal process for research purposes only. If you are representing yourself, your local courts or organizations in the community may have resources to help.

There isn’t a workshop in my area. Can I still provide my input?

Yes! Please call toll-free 1-833-663-6177 to speak directly with a member of our team or email us at CourtCompass@du.edu.