Some people want to complete their Divorce or Family Law matter without a lawyer. This may be because they have heard that lawyers charge high fees or because they do not believe that they need legal advice or legal oversight.
These people will search online or in the phone book for a non-lawyer service such as a document service or paralegal. Fees for non-lawyer services range, but tend to be LOW FLAT FEES. The California courts strongly support the rights of litigants to be ‘in pro per’ or ‘without lawyers’. However, if these people knew that they could hire an attorney for a comparable LOW FLAT FEE, would they still go to a non-lawyer service?
The truth is that people are very underserved by going to a document service or paralegal. The reason for this is that non-lawyer services cannot give the legal advice and oversight that is needed in Divorce and Family Law matters. In addition non-lawyer services cannot help when matters become contested or when court appearances are needed. Situations surrounding Divorce and Family Law are usually complex–even if the litigants assume that they are not! Many people don’t know the law and think that they can disclose what they wish to disclose and do what they think is correct. However, the law and the courts have very specific rules which need to be followed. The problems associated with non-lawyer services are:
- People need to know their legal rights or they may lose their legal rights by filing incorrectly.
- Family Law matters such as Divorce, Legal Separation, Annulments and Paternity Actions involve a series of steps all of which must be done correctly and in a timely fashion or papers will be rejected by the courts and rights may be lost.
- Litigants need to understand what is reasonable in their case so that they can try to negotiate an agreement with the spouse or parent and hence avoid a court appearance.
- Non-lawyer services cannot speak to your specific matter, rather they provide generic solutions–a one-size fits all–which does not work for most people.
Non-lawyer services may have been an alternative when all attorneys charged hefty retainers and hourly rates. This is no longer the case! Today there are many lawyer alternatives that offer affordable rates with legal advice and oversight.