017: Why You Need A Legal Document Assistant And Not A Paralegal For Your California Divorce (Podcast)

In this episode, we are talking about what exactly is a Legal Document Assistant. A Legal Document Assistant is what we are.

We discuss the major differences between a Legal Document Assistant and a Paralegal. We will discuss why you don’t want to use a paralegal for your divorce and the rules they violate when doing so.

The distinction is actually quite simple. The functions are essentially the same but there are specific rules. I would say more specific rules for Legal Document Assistants than there are for Paralegal.

Make sure to listen to the latest podcast.

How To Amend Your Divorce Paperwork | Santa Clarita Divorce

I get a lot of clients coming in for our divorce service who have already started the divorce process in Santa Clarita.  One thing that I frequently find is that the initial divorce paperwork that they have filed in incorrect.

For instance, you may have spelled one of the parties names incorrectly or perhaps used the wrong date of marriage on the Petition. (Don’t worry, you’re not alone). If you have made a mistake on any of the divorce documents and have already filed them with the court, you will have to correct the issue and re file them. And if you have already served the documents, you will have to re-serve them as well.

So I thought I would discuss the proper way to amend your divorce paperwork.  Let’s talk about the initial documents, the Summons and Petition.  On the Petition itself, if you make a mistake and need to amend the form, they already have a box for you.  In the box that says “Petitioner for” you will see there is a big “Amended” box there as well.  So this form is easy.  Simply fill out the Petition correctly and mark the “Amended” box. Re-file it with the court and you are good to go.  But wait, if you amend the Petition, you have to file another Summons.

So make sure to also file an amended Summons.  There is no box on the Summons, so you can simply write the word “amended” above the word summons.  Now because these are the initial documents to be served, make sure you serve them again together, even if you had already served the first Petition and Summons.

And one last thing on this.  Don’t for get to file the amended Proof of Service of Summons.  If you fowled up these initial forms, you will have to wait another 30 days before moving forward after serving them again on your spouse.

You can amend any of the divorce documents that you file just like this by following the instructions above.

If you ran into trouble on these initial documents, you are not alone.  But so you know, these are the easier of the documents to file in your divorce.  That said, you are a good candidate for our divorce service if you had trouble with your divorce forms right out of the gate.

Please give us a call to discuss how we can help you make your divorce as pain free (and error free) as possible.

We Got Your Back In Your Divorce | Santa Clarita Divorce

I came into the office this morning and as usual already had messages from new potential clients who wanted to get started in their divorce.  Most people give a little explanation regarding what is going on.

The message I received today was from a gentleman who said he had started his divorce but now felt he needed a little “backup”.  I know exactly what he is talking about when he says he needs backup.

Here is what generally happens.  Folks are told that they can complete their own divorce, which is true.  But what they are not told is that it is a long, complicated and painful process if you are undertaking it on your own.

So folks will start their divorce and begin to prepare the legal documents.  At some point, they realize that they need help and begin to get frustrated with the process.  What started off with as just filing out a few forms can quickly turn ugly.

I get these types of calls from people at different points in the paperwork.  Some call immediately after picking up the paperwork and take one look at it and give us a call.  Others will attempt to fill out the initial filing forms and file them with the court.  And still others will try to complete the whole thing and even submit the judgment.

There is one common situation among all these folks.  That is how much of their own time they are going to waste before they decide to call me.  In most cases the more work the person does, the more issues we have to fix and re-file and amend forms.

Our recommendation is to call us before you ever get started on your divorce.  Of course, that wont always be the case but you can call us at any point in your divorce.  Regardless where you are at in your divorce we can pick up where you left off, complete a review of everything you have done and get it finished up for you.

As the person who called this morning, we will have your back in your divorce. Call us when you need assistance with your divorce.

Requesting Post Divorce Judgment Financial Information | Santa Clarita Divorce

Did you know there was a way to obtain post judgment financial information on your spouse without having to go to court?  I didn’t until recently and neither do  a lot of attorneys.

This article will discuss how to request  your spouses financial information when there has already been a judgment in your case.  Why would you need to do this, you ask?  Well, if you have an order for spousal support or child support, there may be a time when you want to request a modification of the amount of money you are paying.

Generally, there needs to be a change of circumstances to request a hearing to modify either child support or spousal support.  A change in your spouses income would qualify for this.  But how do you know if your spouse is making more money?  That is where this tool is easy and does not require you to file your motion first or any formal discovery.

Here is what the family code section says on this.

“At any time following a judgment of marital (or domestic partnership) dissolution or legal separation, or a determination of paternity that provides for payment of support, either the payer or payee may serve a request on the other party for the production of a completed current income and expense declaration form, without leave of court. Fam C §3664(a). This statutory right to obtain financial information from the other party provides for the inexpensive discovery of facts before a party seeks the modification or termination of an order for child, family, or spousal support. See Fam C §§36603668. There is no requirement that an order to show cause or motion for modification of support be pending. Fam C §3662. This discovery technique may not be used more than once every 12 months. Fam C §3663.”

For those of us that don’t ready legalese, here is what it says in plain English.  After a judgment in your divorce you can request your spouses income information without going to court no more than once per year. (Couldn’t they have just said that?)

So, if that is the case, how do you go about doing this?  As the requesting party you should serve a Request For Production of an Income and Expense Declaration After Judgment Form (FL-396).

The party served has 35 days to complete the income and expense report and return it along with the prior years federal and state tax return and 2 months of pay stubs.

If the responding party fails to return them or is incomplete regarding any wage information, you can then serve a request for income and benefit information directly on their employer using the Request for income and benefit information from employer (Form FL-397)

Here is a link to the FL-396 Request for production of income and expense after judgment

Here is a link to the FL-397 – Request for Income and Benefit Information from Employer

If you would prefer to have our company prepare and serve these documents for you, please feel free to contact our office.

Filed For Divorce But May Want To Reconcile | Santa Clarita Divorce

I had a newer client call me today and ask if it was possible to slow down the divorce process because they were thinking they might be able to reconcile.

We had filed their divorce earlier in the month and had mailed out the divorce documents to his wife.  We were doing a simplified service where the spouse only need sign saying she received the documents.  Their question was whether they should sign the notice of acknowledgment of receipt or just hold off on everything.

Here are your options if you fall into this situation.  First, you can simply not sign anything.  Just hold off on having your spouse served and wait to see if things work out.  This is what the 6 months cooling off period is for.  The only issue you may run into is this.  If you don’t serve your spouse within 60 to 90 days, the court will set a case management conference to have you appear in court and explain the situation of what is going on.

So this first option is good idea if your spouse knew you filed for divorce.  Why do I say this?  Because if you filed for divorce and your spouse has no idea and then received a notice in the mail from the court addressed from you and opens it, they will see that you filed for divorce.  This will not be a good day for you if this happens.

The next option is to use the notice of acknowledgement of receipt of divorce form and have them sign it.  They can sign in and then just don’t file it.  Hold onto it until you are sure you are going through with the divorce.  This will not slow anything down if you later decide to move forward.  The date your spouse was served will be the day they signed it, even if you file it months later.

One more option would simply be to complete the process of service of your divorce.  Then you don’t have to worry about the court setting any court dates.  But serving your spouse can be kind of official and if you are trying to reconcile, you may want to avoid serving your spouse as that almost always sets a negative tone.

If Santa Clarita Divorce Attorneys Trust Us, Shouldn’t You?

When you decide to work with a divorce service to prepare your divorce forms in Santa Clarita, you should use a company that you trust.  There is simply too much at stake here.

I get a good portion of referrals from divorce attorneys in the Santa Clarita Valley.  I think this speaks volumes about the level of trust they have for me to send me their clients that either can no longer afford their services or from potential clients that don’t really need an attorney.

The point I am trying to make here is that if divorce attorneys in the Santa Clarita valley trust me enough to refer business to me, then that should be a good indicator that we are a company that can be trusted to do a good job in preparing your divorce papers and helping you through the divorce process.

We have a great relationship with divorce attorneys in the Santa Clarita Valley.  We refer clients back and forth.  We sometimes have clients that start working with us and then the case goes sideways and we need to refer them out for an attorney. Sometimes just to get a consultation for legal advice and sometimes they end up retaining them for one reason or another.

We don’t compete with attorneys so we are not a threat to them.  We provide a valuable self help divorce service in Santa Clarita and don’t give legal advice and don’t represent people in court.  That is what the divorce attorneys are for.

But as far as trust, there are many ways you can determine this.  There is this thing called “Social Proof” which is a fancy word for being recommended or having someone reviews written about a company.  For instance, we have lots of 5 star reviews on Yelp.  This is social proof as our clients have reviewed our business.

Attorneys sending us business is another type of social proof.  They would not send us business if we did not do a good job.

We also get lots of emails and sometimes letters from our current and past clients thanking us for helping them out. We post those on our own website which you can find under our testimonials page.

We are a divorce service in Santa Clarita that you can trust.  We have helped hundreds of clients through the divorce process in Santa Clarita and also help the clients sent to us from Santa Clarita Law Firms.  If divorce attorney’s trust us, shouldn’t you?

Our Santa Clarita Divorce Service Is More Than Just Filling Out Forms

The service we provide, that of assisting folks going through divorce is more than just filling out forms.  We provide our clients with a complete understanding of the divorce process learned from numerous years in the industry.

As a legal document preparation company, I suppose it is easy to assume that all we do is fill out divorce forms.  That is why I wanted to talk about this issue.  If you are one of our clients, you already know how much information we provide about the divorce process and how the courts work.  We are there when you have questions along the way.  That is where are real value is.  Anybody can fill out divorce forms.  Well, not really, but just wanted to emphasize my point.

So what kind of things can you learn when working with us?  Well, for starters, everything there is to know about divorce.

Let me give you an example.  Many times we will have clients come to us and say they have an uncontested divorce.  Then somewhere down the line, things change and now the parties are not in agreement and we have to take another approach.

This other approach may be us talking to them about possible mediation options.  Sometimes, we have to help one of the parties file a motion with the court asking for some type of temporary order.  Really, the sky is the limit.  And when these things happen, you are going to want to be working with a company that has the experience working with divorce courts and divorce law firms so we can guide you through the process.

Even for those of you that think your divorce will be a no brain-er, there are still lots of questions that you will have about divorce that have to answered.  You will be glad you made the choice to work with us regardless if you have the easy uncontested divorce or a more difficult case requiring the use of our extensive knowledge about divorce.

Does Your Divorce Paralegal Work For The Courts? Santa Clarita Divorce

As it stands now, we are the only licensed and bonded legal document preparation company in Santa Clarita.  In fact we are the only legal document preparation company in all of Los Angeles County that specializes in divorce.

For now, we enjoy not having any competition in the Santa Clarita Valley.  However, there are lots of paralegal companies in the San Fernando Valley, many of whom are not licensed.  But there is certainly more competition in the San Fernando Valley regardless.

One thing we focus on and talk a lot about is regarding our experience in this industry of divorce and family law.  Our claim to fame is that not only are we the only legal document preparation company in all LA County to specialize in divorce, but we are also the only company that has ever worked for the Los Angeles Superior Courts.

That’s right, we have worked for the courts and completed the Los Angeles Counties family law paralegal internships.  We actually still volunteer there to  this day.

Why do I bring this up?  Again, because experience counts.  Don’t you want to work with a company that has the most experience.?  Well, you are probably thinking, “Yes, but how much does that cost?.  The funny thing is, despite the fact that we are the most experiences divorce service in Los Angeles County, our prices are still very low.  In fact we charge what you would pay with one of these other unlicensed companies.

Here is why our work with the courts is so important to you as a potential customer.  We know and understand the process of how the courts work and use that knowledge to help our clients navigate the court system.  We have worked with the Courts. We know the people that work there and are familiar with the landscape of the court.

When we send our clients to court we can tell them exactly who to talk to, where to go and how to get there.  This takes a huge burden off of you trying to figure things out and lessens the stress load considerably.

If you are faced with divorce, consider using the only divorce service in all Los Angeles County that specializes in divorce and has the experience of working with the courts.

Using Our Santa Clarita Divorce Service When Your Spouse Has An Attorney

I have been getting more and more clients coming to our office for assistance with their divorce where their spouse has an attorney.   I wanted to address what the benefits are of using our service when your spouse has hired an attorney to represent them.

Just yesterday, I had a new client in this situation.  Her husband hired and attorney and filed for divorce.  When this new client came into our office, she said she had been to a few attorneys, but because she did not have money to retain them, they would not help her.

So she came to my office and we discussed what we could do for her and I wanted to share that with my readers.

Her husband had filed for divorce and she needed to file a Response.  Because she had taken so long trying to find an attorney, we were down the the last day to file her response.  We completed her response and then determined that she needed to file a motion for child support and to ask the court to have her husband pay her attorney fees.

So we drafted a declaration and the Request for Order, filed it with the court and obtained a court date.  We also completed all the necessary documents that go along with filing a motion with the court.

The amount of paperwork we completed that day would have taken a law firm several days to complete and cost her upwards of $2,000.  That is a lot of money just to complete the paperwork.  That money is better spent on the attorney if you need them to give you legal advice or represent you in court.  Not to complete paperwork.

In the end, we were able to get her Response filed and file her motion.  Something a divorce lawyer would not touch because she did not have the $3,500 to $5,000 she was quoted to help her.

I can tell you one thing.  In our request for attorneys fees we asked the court to have her husband pay $5,000 towards her attorney fees.  If she gets this award for attorney fees I would bet she won’t be going back to the divorce lawyers that turned her down when she did not have the money.

You can still use our divorce service, even if your spouse has hired an attorney.  We can get all the paperwork done that you need to complete for a fraction of the cost.  And if you are using our service because you don’t have the money to hire and attorney and want to ask the court to award attorney fees, we can help you prepare the appropriate motion so you can have your day in court to ask the court for attorney fees so you can hire an attorney.

We are a licensed and bonded legal document preparation service in Santa Clarita and divorce is all we do.

Divorce, Divorce, Divorce Is All We Do In Santa Clarita

Every day, Day in and day out, we deal with folks facing divorce.  After years of working for the divorce courts in Los Angeles County and Santa Clarita area law firms, our experience continues to grow.  And experience is crucial when it comes to divorce.

Because we speak to so many people every day, we sometimes get a question that we have not had before.  Or a question about divorce that is just slightly different because the person asking has a slightly different scenario.  When this happens, we are able to give specific direction on how to tackle their particular situation because of our previous knowledge.

I am amazed at how much there is to know in this industry.  We have been immersed in the culture of divorce now for several years which allows us to provide our clients with an insight into the divorce process like nobody else.

When you are considering hiring a company to help you through the divorce process you need to make sure to use someone with experience.   Not just someone experienced with filling out the forms, but someone like us who can answer specific questions about the process of divorce as well as court procedure and navigating the court systems.

If we had not worked for the divorce courts or in a law firm setting as we have for all those years before opening this business, I don’t see how we could provide this service.  In fact, I don’t see how anybody else could hold themselves out as an expert in divorce without the type of experience we have.

When clients call us or come to our office, they have so many questions about divorce in Santa Clarita.  Many of the questions we answer are based completely on the experience we had with the family law court or while working for a family law firm in Santa Clarita.

I guess what I am saying here is that you need to use a divorce company with experience and not just someone who knows how to fill out the forms.

If you have questions about divorce, please give us a call.