Philadelphia divorce study finds representation makes big difference

10/15/2018, Report, Divorce

study by Jim Greiner and others of Philadelphia divorces compared a group of people where legal services providers attempted to secure pro bono representation to a group where legal services providers referred the people to self-help resources or low-bono options (as well as provided some telephone advice).  The study found that “eighteen months after randomization, 54.1% of the treated group, as opposed to 13.9% of the control group, had a divorce case on record. Three years after randomization, 45.9% of treated group, as opposed to 8.9% of the control group, had achieved a termination of a marriage.”  The numbers were even more stark when they compared people from the treatment group that actually got pro bono representation to those referred to self-help resources: those with lawyers were 88 percentage points more likely to reach the courthouse in 18 months and about 87 percentage points more likely to achieve a divorce within 36 months, whereas only 5.1% of the control group got a divorce within 3 years.  FYI, this study was released in the fall, but I’m only getting around to reporting on it now.