Family Law

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    California Divorce Costs – Attorney v. Legal Document Assistant

California Divorce Costs – Attorney v. Legal Document Assistant

California divorce costs can differ based on if you and your spouse agree regarding the terms of your divorce; and whether you do the paperwork yourself, hire an attorney, or hire a Legal Document Assistant. A few questions to ask yourself:  Do you want to go to court and have a judge decide the financial future of your lives?  Do you have $10,000+ to spend on attorney fees?  Do you want to stay as financially and emotionally whole as possible through this process?  Can you figure out all the documents on your own and re-do them if the court rejects them?  Divorce is, by no means, an easy process.  It is emotional and can be very confusing.  We are here to help guide you through this process and keep you as financially and emotionally whole as possible.

First off, a Legal Document Assistant is a licensed and bonded paralegal that can prepare legal documents without an attorney, which is why it is more affordable.  San Diego Legal Documents specializes in divorce, small claims, evictions, and document review.
Attorney
To consider whether you may need an attorney or not, here are some questions to ask yourself:

Are we able to split our assets and debts fairly or are we in complete disagreement regarding the finances?
Are we able to be reasonable and put our child(ren) first to create a parenting plan or are we in a battle regarding custody?
Are we prepared to go to litigation, pay thousands in attorney fees, and have a judge decide our case or can we set our differences aside and attempt to get to as equitable a resolution as possible?

Obviously, an attorney does a much different job than [...]

By |August 24th, 2017|Family Law|Comments Off on California Divorce Costs – Attorney v. Legal Document Assistant|

Legal Separation v. Divorce

When faced with splitting from your partner or spouse, you made wonder what is the difference between legal separation v. divorce.  What happens with property?  Can you get re-married?  What about the children?
Ending a Marriage or Domestic Partnership
There are 3 main ways to end a marriage or registered domestic partnership in California: divorce, legal separation, and annulment. It is not necessary for both spouses or domestic partners to agree to end the marriage. Either spouse or partner can decide to end the marriage, and the other spouse/partner, even if he or she does not want to get a divorce, cannot stop the process by refusing to participate in the case. If a spouse or domestic partner does not participate in the divorce case, the other spouse/partner will still be able to get a “default” judgment and the divorce will go through.
Legal Separation v. Divorce
The main difference between obtaining a legal separation and obtaining a divorce is that in a legal separation you do not ask the court to terminate your marital status. In this situation, you still must go through the same process as parties undergoing a divorce, such as dividing marital assets and debts.

Some parties choose to pursue a legal separation for personal reasons, such as religious beliefs or health insurance concerns. Others choose legal separation because of their county of residence. In all of these cases, the parties have chosen not to terminate the marriage at this time. If you choose to legally separate, neither you nor your spouse will be able to remarry without obtaining a divorce.

Whichever route you decide to take, San Diego Legal Documents will be able to assist you.  Please contact us at info@sdlegaldocs.com [...]

By |May 19th, 2017|Family Law|Comments Off on Legal Separation v. Divorce|

Property Division in Divorce

Property division in divorce can be overwhelming and confusing. Property includes cash, bank accounts, homes, cars, furniture, pension and retirement accounts, life insurance, etc.
Community Property
California is a community property state.  This means all property, assets, and debts acquired from the date of marriage to the date of separation belong to both parties.  When dividing these, you will want to have a consultation with a financial adviser, attorney, and/or real estate broker to determine proper value, etc.
Separate Property
Separate property is all property, assets, and debts you had before you were married, or if you received them as an inheritance or as a gift while married.  This stays with the person that had them prior to marriage.

Sometimes different documents need to be drafted for particular types of property, for example a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) for retirement accounts and pensions.  If the home that is shared will still be used by one party, then a fair market value estimate will need to be obtained to determine the buy-out amount.

San Diego Legal Documents has expertise and resources in these areas to assist our clients with a smooth process of transitioning through a divorce without spending tons on attorney fees.  Please contact us if you would like more information or would like to set up a complimentary consultation.

nichole@sdlegaldocs.com

(858) 876-5802

By |January 5th, 2017|Family Law|Comments Off on Property Division in Divorce|

The Fastest Way to Divorce in San Diego County

What is the fastest way to divorce in San Diego County?  While there is no way to expedite a divorce beyond the mandatory 6 month waiting period, accuracy when preparing court documents is essential.  When most people begin the divorce process they would like to complete it as fast, and as cheap, as possible. For these reasons they often go directly to the court for assistance, assuming that the family law facilitators will help them expedite the process for little or no cost. I have found that this is rarely the result and often causes in the process to be drawn out unnecessarily and clients end up paying for private services that they wish that had just done from the start.
Rejected Court Documents
I recently went to court with a friend to help him have a default judgment entered. He had gone to the court and had them help him fill out the paperwork that was necessary to complete his case, but the facilitator helping him had him fill in something on the wrong line. This one wrong document caused all of his other divorce paperwork to be invalid, and the court was requesting that he do it all over again. I was able to help him get it corrected and resubmitted, but the delay costs him months. If you don’t have anyone assisting you with the paperwork, and the documents are rejected by the court, the court clerks are not allowed to assist you with fixing them. You will need to go down to the court again, wait to speak with a family law facilitator, and hope that they have you do it correctly.

I get innumerable clients because of incorrect information received [...]

By |December 22nd, 2016|Family Law|Comments Off on The Fastest Way to Divorce in San Diego County|

Marital Settlement Agreement

A Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) is a binding legal document that lays out the terms of the divorce, including but not limited to, property division, child custody, child support, debt division, spousal support, etc.  While it is beneficial for both spouses to be in complete agreement on all issues, if both spouses can at least come to a partial agreement on the following matters, an MSA may be appropriate.
Terms of a Marital Settlement Agreement

Division of Assets and Debts
Property Determination
Child Custody and Visitation
Child Support
Spousal Support
Income Tax Liability

How Do We Get to This Point?
This may seem far-fetched when first discussing divorce with your spouse.  Both parties are very emotional and may not be able to think rationally.  Divorce does not have to be long and drawn out, messy, and costly.  The more issues that both parties can agree upon, the less time and less money it will take to complete the divorce process.  Once both parties have settled their differences and can move forward with an agreement, all terms should be written up in an agreement.  This written agreement is known as a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA).  An MSA is legally binding upon both parties and specifically spells out the terms of the divorce and the future.

It is important to have an experienced professional prepare the MSA.  San Diego Legal Documents can assist in preparation and negotiation of the terms.  It’s important that proper legal language is placed into the agreement to ensure that both parties’ legal rights are protected.

The most important benefit of settling a divorce amicably and drafting up an MSA is that it takes the power out of the hands [...]

By |December 5th, 2016|Family Law|Comments Off on Marital Settlement Agreement|

San Diego’s One Day Divorce Program

What is San Diego’s One Day Divorce Program?
We are asked about San Diego’s One Day Divorce Program frequently.  Here is some information on the program so you can decide if it’s right for you. Here’s the long and the short of it – no, you will not be divorced in a day.  If this were possible everyone would go this route.  There is a six month mandatory waiting period that applies to ALL divorces in California, regardless of whether you go through this program or hire the most expensive divorce attorney in California.  In order to participate in this program you must first file a Petition for Dissolution with the Court.  Then the other party must be served correctly.  That is when the time starts for the six month waiting period.  After six months, you and your spouse can go down to the courthouse and meet with a court-appointment divorce assistant, if you have: reached an agreement on all orders that will be included in your judgment, including division of property and debts, spousal support, and if you have children, a parenting plan and child support.
Potential Pitfalls
It’s a tall order with a lot of potential pitfalls. It assumes that the Petition for Dissolution is correctly filed and served.  If the filing and/or service was erroneous in any way, you must start again.  This will create another delay, causing your divorce to take longer.  Once this part is complete, your spouse cannot have Responded to the Petition or retained an attorney.  Finally, you need to have disclosed everything to the other party, and you both need to be in agreement on everything.  If you show up without something you were required to bring to Court, [...]

By |November 11th, 2016|Family Law|Comments Off on San Diego’s One Day Divorce Program|

Amicable Divorce

The phrase “Amicable Divorce” is often heard when dealing with divorce, but what exactly does it mean?  And is it possible?  San Diego Legal Documents specializes in amicable divorces and has resources to assist the couple in any area they may need.  When you and your spouse can agree on the terms of your divorce, the process is much smoother, quicker, and you never have to see the inside of a courtroom.  To start off with, do not have a conversation about the terms of divorce when either of you is emotionally charged.  Divorce is a very emotional and mentally draining process for all involved and the best time to discuss it is when both parties are calm and can discuss the terms in a loving and logical point of view.
Property and Debts
To start with, discuss any property you may have.  Do you have a family home?  Will one of you stay in the home?  If not, find a realtor that can assist you with listing the property for sale.  Some couples may opt to both stay in the family home.  Next, determine how you will split any additional assets you may have.  And don’t forget about the debts!  Any debt acquired during the marriage is community property so must be dealt with accordingly.  Be open, honest, and transparent.  If one person is hiding something, the divorce will not end amicably.
Children
If you have children, discuss what is in the best interest of the children.  Try not to disrupt their lives too much and show them that you are kind and considerate to one another.  This will help them get through this difficult time.  We have therapists that work with families [...]

By |November 8th, 2016|Family Law|Comments Off on Amicable Divorce|

How Do I Handle Divorce With Children?

Many clients ask, “How do I handle divorce with children?”  This is a frequent issue that couples have to work through as they go through the divorce process.  First, you must decide on custody and visitation, and then on child support.  Child support cannot be some arbitrary number but must align with California Guideline Support.  Those are just the logistics of divorce.  The second, and most important, is the emotional impact it will have on your children.  San Diego Legal Documents partners with therapists and supervised visitation facilities and can refer you to them, as needed.  We understand the sensitive nature of divorce and how it fully impacts everyone.  We strive to keep the family as whole as possible while going through the divorce process.
When Divorce is Not Amicable
Sometimes the divorce is not amicable and when discussing the children, the parties end up exploding at each other.  There are resources to make communication easier and less emotional.  A website “Our Family Wizard” is often recommended to those that may have small children and/or have difficulty communicating with each other.

San Diego Legal Documents handles divorces, from beginning to end, as well as modification of custody, visitation, and/or support.  Please do not hesitate to contact us for a complimentary consultation.  We would be happy to answer any questions you may have and assist you in navigating this difficult process.

(858) 876-5802

By |October 11th, 2016|Family Law|Comments Off on How Do I Handle Divorce With Children?|
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    Why Use a Legal Document Preparer or Attorney when I Can Just Use LegalZoom?

Why Use a Legal Document Preparer or Attorney when I Can Just Use LegalZoom?

We have heard this question many times – “Why can’t I just use LegalZoom?”  With LegalZoom or any of the online legal document preparation services, you just enter your information and it produces a standard legal document, that may or may not be suitable to your needs.  How do you know if it is the document you need?  How do you know that all the necessary language is there?….The answer is – you don’t.  Without a properly trained individual, that you can discuss your needs with, you will just assume this online service is able to accommodate all of your needs.  What if there’s a mistake?  What if something is missed?  You certainly did not pay the online service to find those.  Unfortunately that often happens after the fact when something is rejected or you get a letter from the State that you missed a filing.  At that point, you then have to pay someone to do it all over for you.

LegalZoom resorts to providing only general information on legal issues commonly encountered, and offers guidance in some instances by indicating that a majority of its customers have answered a question a certain way.  The problem is that everyone’s situation is unique.  Just because the majority of customers have answered a question a certain way, for example, doesn’t necessarily make it right for your individual circumstances.  On December 18, 2009, LegalZoom was sued in the 19th Judicial Circuit Court in Cole County Missouri for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law (see Janson v. LegalZoom complaint).  Is that really who you want providing legal services to you?

The difference between using LegalZoom and a legal document preparer or assistant (“LDA”), is that the LDA knows exactly [...]

By |July 14th, 2016|Family Law|Comments Off on Why Use a Legal Document Preparer or Attorney when I Can Just Use LegalZoom?|

What is San Diego Legal Documents?

San Diego Legal Documents is group of individuals that provide services in the form of legal document preparation for those “do-it-yourself” types that are pursuing some type of legal action, whether that be family law, a civil action, an eviction, etc.  We are experienced paralegals that have registered with the County of San Diego to prepare legal documents for individuals that represent themselves.  We work closely with attorneys, when needed, for document review or legal advice, however the fees we charge are much less than that of an attorney.
We also offer mediation services with licensed clinical social workers, attorneys, and a certified divorce financial analyst, if needed.  Our goal, in divorce, is to keep both parties as financially and emotionally whole as possible, so the transition to being single is a bit more seamless.  Of course, children are the number one priority and we have excellent resources to assist with parenting plans and any issues concerning child custody.
If you think any of these services may be right for you, please do not hesitate to contact keeley@sdlegaldocs.com or nichole@sdlegaldocs.com for additional information.
We look forward to providing you with the best service in town!
 

By |May 5th, 2016|Family Law|Comments Off on What is San Diego Legal Documents?|