OCAP is Utah’s Online Court Assistance Program. This is the official website for pro se or unrepresented parties in the state of Utah to get help in preparing court documents. This system was created to assist the more than 50% of Utahans who want to file cases themselves without legal help. Once a user selects the type of case, the system will go through a set of interview questions. After the interview, the system will print out three sets of a complete petition. OCAP was created to give more of Utah’s population access to the legal help that is so desperately needed.
The OCAP system is set up to create documents in the following types of cases:
- Family matters, including divorce, custody and support, and temporary separation. OCAP can create some of the documents needed to enforce issues in these cases as well. Further, the system can create some of the financial disclosures that are required in divorce and custody cases. The interviews the system takes you through are in depth, so you can specify whether the case involves children, property or assets.
- Guardianship and Conservatorship
- Debt collection and small claims
- Protective orders/stalking
What are the Costs of Using OCAP?
Creating documents with OCAP is free but filing documents with the court costs money. The court will charge a flat fee for the documents plus a filing fee.
In some cases, fees can be waived through a request with the court. When you file the waiver, the judge reviews your request and may decide to waive some, all, or none of the fees depending on your financial situation. If the fee waiver is denied and/or you don’t pay the fees to file your documents, then the case will be dismissed.
What are the Pros and Cons of Using OCAP?
The OCAP system is designed to accommodate the general public. This can be both good and bad. If your case is simple, then using OCAP can be helpful.
On the other hand, if your case is more complex, then OCAP can be difficult to navigate. The system starts from the very beginning and asks LOTS of interview questions. This can get very tedious. Also, if your case involves any agreement that is not standard, the system will ask you to write in the specifics, which can be scary if you’re unsure of what you’re doing. After the interview concludes, the system spits out three complete copies of the complete case. This is a lot of paperwork and can get overwhelming quickly. Also, many of the documents printed at the beginning of a case may not be correct if the parties have to negotiate.
Will Filing Divorce in Utah with OCAP be Easy?
The OCAP system can be simple and easy, especially if your case doesn’t require much work or you’re dealing with an uncontested divorce. But sometimes simple is the biggest issue with using OCAP because divorces aren’t ever easy.
The language OCAP uses on the documents has to be simple because it has to work for every situation. However, as we know, our lives aren’t simple. The nuances in life don’t always fit into a checked box. This is where getting legal advice can be very beneficial.
When to Use OCAP and When to Get Legal Help
Whether to use OCAP or get legal help depends on your situation. The OCAP system is great, but it’s also generic. In fact, there are some provisions that I wish could be put into every OCAP decree. After all, most cases aren’t a “one-size-fits-all.” If you have a more complex case or you don’t have a lot of time, OCAP might not be for you. But if you’re worried about affording a lawyer, there are other options.
The benefit of working with Utah Legal Coach when using the OCAP system is that you only pay for the help that you actually need. You will not pay to have a whole new petition drafted if you have already spent hours working on the OCAP system. If you just have questions about how a specific paragraph will affect your decree, you will only pay for the time that you need with your coach. If you need legal coaching or you need help with documents, contact me today so I can give you the support you need to be successful with your case.