Last Updated on August 1, 2022 by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt
Divorce can be a very difficult and stressful time in your life. You might wonder if you can have a paralegal divorce to help you or you want an attorney instead. So, we will provide you all the information you need to make your final decision.
Who Is A Paralegal?
Paralegals are legal professionals who have been trained and educated in legal issues. Paralegals are not licensed to practice law as attorneys because they have not been admitted in the appropriate state or federal bars.
The easiest way to understand a paralegal would be to use the term “legal assistant”. A paralegal assists lawyers in drafting documents and preparing for hearings, trials, and meetings. They can also help with any other aspect of law that is not related to the practice of law. It is legal in most states to hire a paralegal certified to assist with the divorcing process. Independent paralegals are allowed to act as legal document preparation in a few states. If you have a motion or petition to file, you can hire a paralegal.
Paralegals can be an invaluable asset if you don’t know the laws or procedures in your state. They are a better option than trying to navigate the confusing legal landscape on your own.
Paralegal vs. Divorce Attorneys
Things Paralegal Can Do
- You can have your divorce papers legalized.
- Let the judge know where to file divorce papers.
- Teach you how to serve your spouse with divorce papers.
- Assist with filling out state-specific forms to modify child support or alimony.
Things Paralegals Can’t Do
- Get legal advice
- Advocate for yourself in court the same way as a divorce lawyer.
Paralegals can help gather the information you need, create the necessary documentation and prepare you for the complex divorce process. Many paralegals are as competent as lawyers and can be just as helpful. An attorney is only a requirement if you need someone to represent your interests in negotiations or in court. A paralegal can be a cost-saving option if your divorce is relatively simple. However, don’t consider getting a paralegal if your divorce has complications, with complex issues like custody battles or the division of large assets. They are less skilled in high-conflict situations because they lack a good understanding of state divorce laws, court procedures, and even your child custody.
How to Find a Paralegal
You should research the background of any paralegal before you sign a contract, just like a divorce lawyer. Every state has its own requirements for paralegals. If your state has a board or governing body for paralegals, it’s a good place. Experience is a key consideration when dealing with paralegals. If you’re facing divorce, you need a paralegal who has extensive experience in divorce work and not someone who only does estate planning work. Ask prospective paralegals about previous clients’ references and questions about their legal education. If possible, online reviews can be a good indicator of what to expect.
Benefits of Using a Paralegal for Your Divorce
A paralegal is cheaper than an attorney. Even if you have an excellent attorney, a paralegal still does lot of the work behind-the scenes. A paralegal can provide a great service because their hourly rates are lower and the work can be as good or better than an attorney. You can also get a lot more value. A paralegal is a person who can help you navigate the legal process, especially if it focuses on paperwork and filing.
However, it is important to evaluate your particular situation and use sound judgment. Shawn Leamon states that a paralegal is not a good idea in complex or contentious divorces. If your spouse has an attorney and you have a paralegal, it could be a disadvantage to you when the first court date comes up.