In partnership with the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission, the North Carolina Judicial Branch has announced that Adult Guardianship has been added to the case filings available under eCourts Guide & File, the free service that allows attorneys and the public to prepare court documents online in just a few easy steps. With 24/7 online access and easy-to-understand interview questions, Guide & File helps eliminate barriers and simplify the legal process, particularly for the hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who come to court without an attorney every year.
“Guide & File has already helped thousands of self-represented litigants in North Carolina navigate the court system, fulfilling our promise of expanding access to justice. Our goal for this initiative is to ensure that we are introducing programs that make the courts and court processes more accessible and understandable, particularly to those who can not afford an attorney," said NCAOC Director Andrew Heath. “We will continue to build upon our early success with Guide & File by adding more case filings, such as Adult Guardianship, while always looking for ways to to improve the service we provide to the citizens of this state."
While the most case filings for Guide & File have so far been for divorce and small claims, many North Carolinians have had to face the unfortunate task of seeking guardianship for a loved one. Adding Adult Guardianship to Guide & File's offerings will help self-represented litigants step-through the court process required to create a guardianship.
With Guide & File just six-months old in North Carolina, thousands of self-represented litigants have taken the opportunity to submit their case flings via Guide & File's intuitive three-step process:
- An online interview guides the user through a series of online questions and, much like popular tax-filing software, each answer helps determine what the next question will be.
- Using the information provided, Guide & File automatically creates the appropriate legal documents.
- Completed form(s) are then printed and ready to be filed with the clerk of court, either by mail or in person.
Anyone with internet access can use the service anytime, anywhere at NCcourts.gov/Services. Following step-by-step prompts, the interactive interview takes the guesswork out of traditional forms, ensuring that the paperwork is procedurally correct, legible, and complete for filing. Documents prepared online can then be printed and filed with the county clerk of court. Users who create an account can save and return to complete a filing at their own pace, on their own time. Guide & File will significantly decrease the time anyone needs to spend at the clerk’s office completing forms and will minimize processing delays resulting from insufficient or incomplete filings
Upon its introduction and with input from the clerks of superior court and advocates in the legal services community, the Judicial Branch selected a number of case types initially included in Guide & File, the ones most frequently handled pro se, that is, without the assistance of an attorney. As with Adult Guardianship announced today, additional case types will continue to be added over time. Currently, Guide & File can be used to prepare documents for the following types of cases:
Guide & File was the first component to launch as part of the Judicial Branch’s multi-year effort to replace outdated computer systems and databases with a modern, integrated case management system (ICMS). The new system, which will be deployed in phases over the next four years, will include electronic filing and online access to court records. As counties migrate to the new system, Guide & File will allow users to not only prepare their documents online, but to submit them to the clerk electronically, as well.
Disclaimer: Judicial Branch employees are not permitted to provide legal advice or help fill out these forms for the public. For legal advice or questions about legal rights and remedies, the public may consult an attorney licensed to practice law in North Carolina.