Divorce Attorney Alternatives: Represent Yourself or Hire a Paralegal?
It is possible to file for divorce without an attorney. However, it is rarely advisable to do so. You should meet certain conditions to even consider representing yourself. Hiring a paralegal is also a possible way for you to save some money on your divorce. Learn if you could consider pursuing either of these money saving techniques or if you really should have a California divorce lawyer on your side.
Now that you know it is possible to proceed without hiring an attorney, you must decide if you should file for a divorce without a lawyer. It's recommended you consider several things first.
- Was your marriage short lived?
- Do you and your spouse have a little debt and little property? Can you and your spouse easily agree on dividing property?
- Do you not have any kids? If so, can you and your spouse easily resolve custody matters?
- Will you and your spouse be able to resolve issues peacefully?
If you can answer yes to all of these questions, then you might consider handling the divorce on your own to save money. California law allows self-representation. However, it's rarely advisable to do so, since the issues are complex and the legal system can be time consuming and confusing.
California law allows self-representation. However, it's rarely advisable to do so, since the issues are complex and the legal system can be time consuming and confusing.
Consider Hiring a California Paralegal to Save Money
If you decide against hiring an attorney, there are paralegals that work independently and can assist you with the basic matters of divorce. Paralegals charge a much smaller fee, because they are only able to help in simple matters. This may mean that if your divorce has a particularly high level of complexity, a paralegal would be unable to provide you with the level of assistance you need.
Be aware that California does not have any uniform standards on the training and education of paralegals, which means any person can advertise these services. To protect yourself against hiring unqualified individuals, it's recommended you only hire someone who is a certified paralegal.
Just as you would when hiring a divorce attorney, interview California paralegals and only choose one with a positive reputation. Ask friends and family if they can refer you to a paralegal they had previously used. Since you cannot be certain that a paralegal will finish the job or stay in business long enough to complete your divorce, you need to find one that has been working for a significant amount of time. You should also consider choosing a paralegal who works under an attorney. Above all, always consult a divorce attorney prior to hiring a paralegal.
A Divorce Attorney Could Save You Money
Do-it-yourself divorces may seem advantageous especially when you look at it from a pure cost perspective. However, in many cases, a good lawyer pays for himself or herself many times over throughout the divorce process.
Timing is critical. Hire a California divorce attorney early in the process to save the most money. In addition to tax and insurance advice, a good divorce attorney will explain California requirements for dividing property. An attorney will also be uniquely qualified to handle the financial implications of divorce. If you have an attorney on your side from the beginning of the divorce process, you are more likely to be protected if certain facts aren't disclosed in the divorce paperwork.
Mediation can also save time and money when working to finalize a divorce. It's highly recommended you hire an attorney to complete divorce mediation; do not rely on yourself or a paralegal to get you through a mediation.
The bottom line: If your divorce has any aspects that could make the process complicated, do not hesitate to hire an attorney.
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California Divorce Guide