Mind the Gap: Technology as a Lifeline for Pro Se Child Custody Appeals

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As the justice gap continues to grow, and because there is no fed-eral constitutional right to counsel in civil cases, there is an ongoingneed to develop solutions to assist those who cannot afford attor-neys to navigate the difficult procedural issues associated withtheir legal matters. Appellate procedure is difficult to comply witheven when a person has legal training, and for the pro se litigant itcan be particularly difficult to articulate a meritorious claim anddraft the documents required to initiate an appeal. Failure to com-ply with the procedural requirements for an appeal can result in the appellate court finding waiver or even dismissing the case prior to it being heard on the merits. Artificial intelligence systems and technology have been identified as a means to help close the justice gap. Through a case vignette, this article will explore the need for additional options to help close the justice gap and will exemplify how technology can assist with the justice gap by presenting an application designed to assist pro se litigants in the creation of the initiating documents for Pennsylvania child custody appeals.