Many couples who choose to do their own divorce paperwork decide to download free, fill-in-the-blank legal forms from the Internet. While there are some trustworthy sources for free or cheap divorce forms, such as the California Courts’ Self-Help website, not every downloadable form is equal. In fact, some websites actually offer outdated and even illegal documents! Believe it or not, when you are divorcing without a lawyer, just ONE bad divorce form can have a negative effect on your divorce proceedings. Here are some of the most common ways faulty documents slow down or complicate divorce in California.
5 Most Common DIY Divorce Form Problems
1) Paperwork is Not County-Specific
Did you know that many required divorce forms in California are specific to the county in which you file? For example, the Alameda County Court System lists their local forms on their self-help website. Unfortunately, these local requirements mean that even forms from the Superior Court’s website may be unusable in your divorce. As a result, the court may deny the form and ask you to re-complete it. Obviously, this will cause a slowdown in your divorce proceedings. However, if you are already filing close to a due date, a denied form could potentially lead to a complete case dismissal!
2) Outdated Documents
While you can almost always trust documents you download from your local county court, other fill-in-the-blank downloadable forms are not always reliable. In fact, even if they were acceptable at one time, that may no longer be the case. Unfortunately, the law is constantly changing – and family law is no exception.
This fact is best demonstrated by the “Latest Changes” page under “Forms & Rules” on the California Courts’ Self-Help Website. On this page, users can view the most recent changes the California Court System has made to their forms. For example, the court approved a whopping seven new family law forms on 9/24/2019, including Form FL-306 Request to Reschedule Hearing and Form FL-308 Agreement and Order to Reschedule Hearing. Much like failing to use a county’s local documents, using an outdated form can result in delayed or dismissed proceedings as well.
3) Human Error from Filing Without Assistance
Finally, one of the biggest mistakes of using DIY legal paperwork for divorce results from a lack of guidance. Even if a couple does not require an attorney’s representation or legal advice, they may still benefit from legal document assistance. In reality, unless you have a legal education or background, legal documents are confusing and complicated. As a result, some individuals who complete divorce paperwork on their own end up agreeing to provisions they don’t actually want!
For instance, a couple rushing through a marital settlement agreement to finalize their separation as soon as possible may overlook some key items on which they actually disagree. A simple mix-up of “sole physical” and “sole legal” custody, for example, could have a MAJOR impact on the child custody orders a couple thought they agreed on. This problem could easily land the couple back in court, contesting their prior agreement. Plus, they would most likely require a lawyer this time around.
A People’s Choice Can Help With Your Divorce Forms!
Luckily, a divorce without an attorney does NOT limit you to paperwork downloaded from the Internet. Instead, you can work with a registered legal document assistant such as A People’s Choice for personalized, one-on-one help with your forms. While we are not attorneys and cannot provide legal advice, we provide services tailored to your exact needs and circumstances, unlike sites like LegalZoom and Nolo. Plus, we have over 40 years’ experience assisting people with their divorce and other family law cases in California.
…But don’t take our word for it! Check out our clients’ raving reviews and testimonials here. Then, check out our low-cost, flat-fee pricing options. With our services, the court will NOT slow down nor dismiss your divorce due to one bad legal form. Call A People’s Choice today at 1-800-747-2780 to learn more about how we can help.
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