Filing any legal documents can be stressful without the right guidance. Many people tend to think that the only way to begin a legal case requires help from an attorney or paralegal. However, using a document filing service can help simplify, expedite, and file your documents just as well as a paralegal can, if not better.
What Is a Legal Document Preparation Service?
A legal document preparation service is an organization that helps individuals understand and file different kinds of legal documents. The Arizona Supreme Court authorizes only Certified Legal Document Preparers to offer services to the general public.
Without this accreditation, a legal document preparation service that drafts legal documents for a person or a business without the guidance of an attorney is practicing law without a license. The only objective of the Arizona Supreme Court’s certification and oversight of the people and businesses creating legal documents is to safeguard the public.
For example, if you want to file for a divorce but need help figuring out the process, you may need to seek assistance with your filing. By contacting a legal document preparation service, you can get the necessary help you need for filing your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the added legal oversight provided by certified legal professionals.
An attorney is not legally necessary for filing these petitions, but the added guidance from a legal document preparation service can help you feel secure in the legal legitimacy of your documents.
Legal Document Services
Typically, document preparation services in Arizona work within family law matters. Family law consists of issues between individuals in a relationship with one another, either by blood or marriage. These matters often involve changing relationships or marital statuses, but all involve familial relationships.
Depending on the situation, certain documents must be filed to accomplish one of these relationship changes.
Some of the most common document filings related to family law include:
The decision to file for divorce is rarely easy, but sometimes, it can be necessary. The first step in getting a divorce begins with filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. These filings are submitted by a petitioner, and to proceed, the respondent (the other spouse) must be notified of the filing.
If all issues in the case are agreed upon by both parties, the case may move forward once the parties file a consent decree. The filing party may request a default judgment if the Petition was submitted, served to the opposing party, and no response has been submitted in the given time frame.
For covenant marriages, this process can be a bit more complicated as supplemental information and directives are required to continue the divorce. When seeking a divorce, a petitioner in a covenant marriage must prove the other party committed an act that disrupted the marriage, such as adultery, and that marriage counseling efforts have not resolved that dispute. From there, the Petition and evidence can be submitted and the proceedings can continue.
Suggested Reading: Arizona Divorce Guide
To create a plan for child custody, known as legal decision-making and parenting time in Arizona, parents must file an extensive list of legal documents that outline their custody plans. The Sensitive Data Cover Form with Children, summons, Affidavit Regarding Minor Children, Order and Notification to Attend Parenting Education or Information Classes, and a Parenting Plan should all be completed by divorcing and unmarried parents, respectively.
Creating a unique parenting plan for your particular situation is recommended, allowing parents to create a visitation schedule that suits their needs and the needs of their child. Parents who are divorcing should also fill out a Notice of Your Rights Regarding Health Insurance Coverage, a Preliminary Injunction, a Notice Regarding Creditors, a Petition for Dissolution of a Non-Covenant Marriage with Minor Children, and a Petition for Legal Separation with Minor Children.
Requests for Child Support
Before beginning the process of filing for child support, parents must confirm paternity and compile documents first. The second parent’s name, Social Security number, birth certificates for each child, and, if available, their most recent employer must also be provided.
Any children mentioned on the application should have as much documentation as possible. Birth records, copies of paternity orders, copies of support orders from the past or present, a list of payments given to you personally, and adoption documents are all relevant and should be included.
If you have ever married, you must present copies of any marriage certificates or any divorce judgments you have regarding any marriages. Once all the necessary identification information is collected, you can fill out an application for Title IV-D Child Support Assistance.
The documentation you collect about you, your co-parent, and your child or children are necessary for these filings. You must fill out a separate sheet for every individual child with your application for assistance if you are requesting benefits for multiple children who share the same father. Once completed, this information can be sent to Arizona Child Support Services.
Suggested Reading: Ways to Avoid a Child’s Split Loyalty
For some custody or support situations, modifying a pre-existing order is necessary to make the situation sustainable. When parents desire to change legal decision-making and parenting time, they can file a Petition to Change Legal Decision-Making, Parenting Time arrangements set by the court and Child Support systems.
According to Arizona law, even if neither parent requests a change in child support, family courts must readjust it whenever the current parenting time situation is altered. However, being proactive about updating these orders by submitting your order modifications is the best way to efficiently get these orders changed.
Name changes can be initiated for several reasons, ranging from divorce to a requested identity change. As an adult, the necessary forms to complete to apply for a name change include an Order of Name Change, a Petition for Change of Name (also known as an Application for Change of Name), and a Notice of Hearing Regarding an Application for Change of Name.
If the court believes that a name change would impact the rights of someone else, such as a debtor or the co-parent of a shared child, it may not be permitted. It is critical to understand that even after changing your name, you remain the same person. You will just go by a different name, but you will still be subject to the same legal duties and obligations.
Differences Between a Paralegal and a Document Handling Service
Under the direction of a lawyer, paralegals may assist with document preparation, filing, organizing evidence and documentation for review by an attorney, and synthesizing reports for trial preparation. They may also aid in fostering interactions with clients, witnesses, attorneys, and other parties associated with a case.
One of the most important things to keep in mind while hiring and working with a paralegal is that they must be supervised by lawyer during all stages of their work. In addition, paralegals cannot give you legal advice; only an attorney is qualified to do so.
Legal document preparers are specially qualified to assist you in appropriately filling out and filing your legal paperwork without the oversight of an attorney, though some may be attorneys themselves. In this capacity, they are unable to provide you with legal counsel or act as your advocate in court.
A legal document preparation service can help you with a variety of legal issues, including divorce filing, changing child support obligations, and more. Your document preparer will be aware of their limitations due to their training and will, if necessary, recommend you to an experienced attorney.
Should I Hire a Paralegal for Divorce?
Legally speaking, you do not need to have a paralegal or lawyer assist you with the divorce process. Every situation is different, and understanding what makes a document preparation service different from hiring a paralegal is essential to decide what route is best for you.
Some of the benefits that come from hiring a legal document service include the following:
Lawyers, and by extension paralegals, are all paid by the hour. This means that the longer it takes for them to analyze your situation and help you file your documents, the more you end up paying for their services. Document filing services can help streamline this process, which can help save you money long-term.
Accuracy of Filings
Trying to navigate your filings alone can lead to glaring mistakes that get your information either dismissed or completely thrown out. Hiring a legal document service is best for making sure that you accurately represent your claims to the court, as they can ensure your filings are reviewed by legal professionals before they are officially submitted.
Easy Navigation of the Process
Ease of filing goes hand in hand with the accuracy of your filings. One of the reasons filing these documents can be so stressful is how tricky they are to navigate. With help from an expert legal document filing service, you can be sure that any minor missteps or mistakes are properly addressed before they are finally submitted.
For those that need to handle multiple document filings for the same cause or those who want to accomplish multiple different legal tasks, a legal document filing service can assist you with multiple orders at once. This can further streamline the filing process. By contrast, if you choose to work with a paralegal to manage multiple filings, the price for these services could become hard to manage.
Suggested Reading: Do I Need a Lawyer to Get a Divorce
Disadvantages to Document Filing Services
The only disadvantage of choosing a document preparer instead of a lawyer is that their services are limited to document preparation, case handling, and case management. In this regard, you may require legal assistance if your filing is complex or has special problems. A legal document preparer is expressly prohibited from providing legal advice or responding to inquiries regarding your legal options. A legal document preparer is unable to act as your legal representative in court.
While a paralegal may provide you with the quick help of a lawyer, they are also limited in their abilities. Document filing services are much more straightforward, cost-effective, and user-friendly compared to hiring a paralegal. In situations where more legal help is needed, a legal document preparer can refer you to a lawyer to help resolve your issue.
File Your Family Law Documents with Draft My Legal Docs
Filing legal documents requires attention to detail, comprehensive information gathering, and an understanding of how these filings work. Fortunately, legal document services can help guide you through the filing process, taking some of the stress that comes with these decisions off of your shoulders.
At Draft My Legal Docs, we can help you put together and submit your legal filings, ensuring that they are legally sound before they get sent out. For more information on our services, contact us today.
Jonathan Roeder is one of the founding partners of Reppucci & Roeder. He is an Arizona native who has dedicated his life and career to the service of others. After graduating salutatorian of his high school class, Jonathan attended beautiful and prestigious Pepperdine University, where he majored in Political Science. During his tenure at Pepperdine University, his passion for helping others grew after securing a clinical position with a residential treatment center for juveniles with substance addictions. Post-graduation, Jonathan returned to Arizona and served as a residential manager for mentally and physically disabled homes.