Questions and Answers About Divorce

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Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about divorce.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PARALEGAL AND LEGAL DOCUMENT ASSISTANT (LDA)?

A “Paralegal” is an individual who is qualified by education, training, or work experience, who either contracts with or is employed by an attorney and performs work under the direction and supervision of an attorney who is an active member of the State Bar of California.

A “Legal Document Assistant” (LDA) is an individual who provides Self-Help-Services to a person who is representing themselves in a divorce or other legal matter. An LDA may also be a Paralegal and vice versa. The key difference is that the LDA does not work under the direct supervision of an attorney.

An LDA can assist you with the preparation and court processing of your legal documents for divorce or other legal matter based upon your specific request and instruction. Again, should you feel that you may need legal advice, we have attorneys available who will consult with you for an initial consultation at a very minimal cost so that you can make a well-informed decision on how you would like to have our office handle and address all matters involved in your divorce or other family law related case. Please understand that you do not have to hire the attorney if you do not wish to do so.

WHY DO PEOPLE USE A LEGAL DOCUMENT ASSISTANT?

The primary reason people use a Legal Document Assistant (LDA) is to save money. Attorneys can be costly, often charging an average of $300.00 per hour or greater with an average retainer of $5,000.00 to $7,000.00 to begin your case.

Another reason why people use a Legal Documents Assistant (LDA) is to get through the legal process of divorce or other family law matter as amicably and smoothly as possible. Unfortunately, in some cases where attorneys are involved, especially divorce and other family law related matters can become complex, emotions become heightened and the situation may become more confrontational and costly.

By utilizing a Legal Document Assistant (LDA), you can save substantial money while obtaining professional assistance in preparing and filing all legal documents necessary for your divorce and/or other family law related case.

Our service can prepare all legal documents necessary for both spouses when entering into a full agreement or just one spouse when not entering into a full agreement with their spouse.

Our rates are very competitive, especially for the level of experience and quality of service we provide. We understand that finances can be more limited for some of our clients and because of this we offer a payment plan to allow our clients the ability to make scheduled payments that are comfortable for them and their financial situation.

WHAT SHOULD I BE LOOKING FOR IN A PARALEGAL OR LEGAL DOCUMENT ASSISTANT SERVICE?

  • Experience
  • Professionalism
  • Confidentiality
  • Excellent Customer Service
  • Efficiency
  • Affordability
  • Reliability and follow through from start to finish
  • Professional Office Environment

A qualified Paralegal or Legal Document Assistant service should have many years of experience in the field they practice, should be efficient in how they handle your case and should be providing services at an economical rate for the quality of service they are providing.

At Priority One Legal we pride ourselves in having Legal Document Assistants and Paralegals with a vast depth of knowledge in preparing and completing our clients’ divorce and family law related cases efficiently and in providing our clients with quality service at an economical cost!

WILL I NEED AN ATTORNEY TO REPRESENT ME?

Whether you should retain an attorney to represent you would depend on your needs and the complexity of your divorce or family law related case. In many cases, it is possible to effectively represent yourself, especially when there is no hearing required or both you and your spouse or other party in the action are in agreement.

Should you require legal advice, decide that you want an attorney to represent you in a court hearing or appearance or if your divorce or other family law related case becomes contested (disputed by the other party), we can refer you to an experienced attorney who you can consult with you for an initial consultation at a very reasonable fee. The attorney can advise you of your legal rights and, if you decide to, you may discuss retaining the attorney to represent you. However, should you not wish to hire the attorney but would like to have the attorney appear with you at your hearing; you may choose to have the attorney do a “special appearance”. In this situation, the attorney will appear with you at a hearing only. This will reduce your costs by retaining the attorney only for the time spent assisting you with the court appearance and will allow our office to continue assisting you with the preparation of your legal documents for your divorce or other family law related matter, thus minimizing your overall costs.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO “COMPLETE” MY CASE?

The length of time it takes to complete your case will depend on the type of case you are filing and if the case remains uncontested.

In California, for example, a divorce takes a minimum 6 months and 1 day from the date the other spouse is served to terminate your marital status. However, we can generally complete your paperwork and establish orders with the court in a shorter period of time, although in divorce cases your marital status will still not terminate until a minimum of six (6) months and one (1) day from the date your spouse is served with the Summons and Petition for divorce. The time it takes to terminate your marital status could also be affected if your divorce case is contested by the other spouse.

In other types of cases, such as modifications or cases that require a hearing, the length of time to complete your case will primarily depend on how the case progresses through the court. We can, however, prepare all the necessary documents to file a motion or modification within a matter of days and will file these documents and obtain a court date for you shortly after you sign your documents.

WILL I HAVE TO GO TO COURT?

Whether you will need to go to court will depend on the type of case you are filing, the issues involved, and how efficiently the parties in the action move on their case. In most uncontested divorces, legal separations and other types of cases that are not contested by the other party or when both parties are in agreement, you will rarely need to appear in court provided that your documents are prepared correctly and are processed in a timely manner.

In contested cases, you will typically have to appear in court, unless you and the opposing party reach an agreement in what the court considers a reasonable amount time.

In cases where parties wish to modify existing orders or the case becomes contested and the parties are unable to reach an agreement, you will usually have to appear in court. Additionally, should you request that documents be filed with the court to set a hearing date in order to establish or modify orders through the court, your appearance in court will be required.

When you consult with our office to discuss your case, we will be able to discuss the possibility of a court appearance being necessary and explain the court procedures to you.

WHAT ARE THE COSTS INVOLVED IN USING A LEGAL DOCUMENT ASSISTANT?

While the cost of using a Legal Document Assistant is substantially less than the majority of attorneys, the exact cost is determined on a case by case basis during the consultation.

In addition to the fees for our services, in many cases there will be a court filing fee, based upon the type of case you are filing with the court. This fee varies and will also be discussed during the consultation appointment.

Once we have the opportunity to discuss your case with you in detail, we can determine exactly what fees will be involved for our service to assist you. Rest assured that there are no “hidden costs” and our fees are very competitive and reasonable for the high level of expertise and services you will receive when working with our office.

Let our experienced Paralegals and Legal Document Assistants assist you in preparing your documents right the first time!