• Legal and valid.
All documents and forms, other than the required Judicial Council Forms,
were developed by attorneys with many years of family and civil law
experience. In addition, Attorney Alternative’s divorce paralegal service
includes a comprehensivc Marital Settlement Agreement to better protect
your financial and custody interests.
• Experience you can trust.
The professional Divorce Paralegals at Attorney Alternative have helped to satisfy our clients’ needs for professional,
accurate and thorough divorce document preparation since 1994. Experienced professionals
will prepare and review your final divorce documents, so you can rest assured
that we’re preparing your divorce documents quickly and correctly.
• Fast and Low-Cost.
Our experience allows us to prepare divorce documents QUICKLY AND ACCURATELY!
Plus, we are committed to providing the highest quality service at a
reasonable price. We are not the least expensive Divorce Paralega service, but our over 10 years of professional experience
and attention to detail will convince you we are the best alternative
for your divorce needs.
• Personal Service.
Our representatives are available to answer your divorce questions by phone
or e-mail. Also, unlike other services, except for the required Judicial
Council Forms your divorce documents are not simply “fill in the blank”
or generic forms. Rather, they are customized for your situation and
tailored to your specific needs.
• Safe and confidential.
Attorney Alternative' Divorce Paralegals are committed to the highest levels of integrity
and confidentiality. Your information is shared with no other party
unless required to be disclosed by law. You can be assured that anything
you tell us in the preparation of your divorce documents is held in the utmost
trust and confidence.
• Our Work is Guaranteed:
Your divorce documents will be prepared properly and completely every
time. However, if for any reason the divorce documents we prepare are
not accepted by the court for filing, we will fix them and resubmit
them to the court FREE.
ATTORNEY ALTERNATIVE IS THERE WITH YOU THROUGH THE ENTIRE PROCESS...
Often changes can occur from the time of filing of the
case until the final Judgment of Divorce is entered by the Court. Frequently,
a person’s situation or needs will change, whether it is a simple
change of address, or a complete renegotiation of your division of property
or child custody arrangement.
Whatever the final outcome of the case, the experienced Divorce Paralegals at Attorney Alternative help you
with your case in a manner designed to successfully accomplish a final
disposition of the matter, while allowing you to remain in control.
Other paralegal and divorce services simply do not or cannot provide
this degree of personalized service to which you are entitled.
Divorce is a serious matter with permanent results,
and should be treated with competence, caring and professionalism. Your
divorce case is too important to entrust to anyone but the most qualified
and experienced practitioner who understands the full scope and impact
the case will have on your life. Call us today to set an appointment
to discuss your individual situation. The initial one-half hour consultation
is FREE, and SAME-DAY APPOINTMENTS are often available.
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IF YOU DON'T NEED AN ATTORNEY'S ADVICE...
DON'T PAY AN ATTORNEY'S PRICE!
What is "No Fault" divorce?
If I don't know where my spouse is located, can I still
get a divorce?
How long does the entire divorce process take?
What is the procedure to get a divorce?
Does my spouse need to sign anything, or otherwise cooperate?
Does my spouse need to come in with me to our appointment?
How is Divorce different than Legal Separation?
How is Spousal Support determined?
What are the issues involving children?
What is the difference between a lawyer and a Legal Document
What is "NO FAULT DIVORCE"?
Increasingly popular throughout the United States since
the 1960s, no fault divorce is now in effect in every state except Illinois
and South Dakota. In a no-fault divorce state (including California),
neither spouse is required to prove "fault" or marital misconduct
on the part of the other.
To obtain a divorce a spouse must merely assert incompatibility or irreconcilable
differences, meaning the marriage is irretrievably broken. This means
there is no defense to a divorce petition (so a spouse cannot "fight"
a divorce). There is no derogatory testimony, and marital misconduct
cannot be used to achieve a division of property favorable to the "innocent"
spouse. California State law specifically provides that the Court shall
not divide assets on the basis of marital misconduct.
Back to FAQ
If I don't know where my spouse is located,
can I still get a divorce?
The California Rules of Civil Procedure provide that
a missing spouse may be served by publication (advertisement of legal
notice). However, this is not the preferred method of notifying your
spouse of the pending divorce action, and special requirements must
be met to give the court jurisdiction when the other party is served
in this manner.
Back to FAQ
How long does the entire divorce process
The documents to file your case will be prepared and
ready to sign and file within a couple of days after your initial appointment.
Typically, the other side can be served within a short period of time
after the case is filed.
The minimum time to conclude the case depends largely
on when the Respondent (your spouse) is legally served. In California,
a divorce may not be finalized until at least 6 months have elapsed
after the court acquired jurisdiction over your spouse by having the
divorce documents served on them. This time period is by statute and
may not be shortened.
In cooperative cases (a/k/a "friendly divorce")
the matter can be expedited if the Respondent signs an acceptance of
service of process form that is then filed with the court.
Additional factors affecting the duration of the case
include the current court case load, whether the case will proceed by
default, whether the parties will proceed by stipulation (Marital Settlement Agreement or Stipulated Judgment)
or if the case will be contested. Please refer to the next paragraph regarding
Back to FAQ
What is the procedure to get a Divorce?
There are three distinctive methods by which a divorce
case may proceed before the Court:
A. DEFAULT CASE.
In this type of case, the Petition is filed with the
Court and service of the documents is made to the Respondent. The Respondent is
allowed 30 days to file a Response to respond to the allegations, issues,
causes or requests set forth in the Petition. If the Response is not
filed in the allocated amount of time, the Petitioner may request that
Respondent's default be taken for failure to respond to the Petition.
After the required 6-month waiting period has expired,
the Judge or Commissioner may sign the divorce Judgment at the default
hearing, (provided of course that the documents have been properly prepared,
and the case administered properly). The case is final and the divorce
decree is effective immediately when the Judge or Commissioner signs
(aka Stipulated Decree)
In this type of case, the Petition is filed with the
Court and service is effected upon the Respondent. The Respondent is
still permitted 30 days to file a Response to respond to any allegations
or statements in the Petition.
Accordingly, if the parties agree to the terms of the
divorce, the Settlement Agreement may be drafted in accordance with
the parties' wishes, and the case may proceed by this agreement.
This is one of the least expensive ways to proceed, because the only
court cost in most cases will be the appearance fee for both parties.
C. CONTESTED PROCEEDING
This is the type of case which can drag on for months,
each party incurring additional expenses. Under the Rules of Civil Procedure
and Due Process clause of the Constitution, a Respondent has the right
to appear and defend the allegations in the Petition. If the Petition
is adverse to the Respondent's wishes with regard to property division,
debt allocation, alimony, child custody, etc., the Respondent may file
a Response to the Petition, stating the terms and conditions the Respondent wants the court to grant. If the Response is properly drafted and timely filed, and
the parties do not reach an agreement to facilitate the dissolution
process, then the Court may set the case for trial and enter a Judgment
based upon the evidence and application of the material statutes.
Back to FAQ
Does my spouse need to sign anything,
or otherwise cooperate?
Not if your case is properly prepared and administered
through the Court. California is a "no fault divorce" state,
so grounds such as infidelity or other marital misconduct need not be
proven before the Court may grant a divorce decree.
A party does not need to have the consent or permission
of the other party to obtain a divorce decree. However, the Respondent
may present issues and defenses regarding division of property, alimony,
child custody, etc. Because of these defenses, it is obviously the advisable
course of action to negotiate or attend mediation with your spouse prior
to filing the case in order to avoid contested issues.
Back to FAQ
Does my spouse need to be with me at
the Court hearing, or come in with me to our appointment?
No. The Hearing set by the Court to grant the Judgment
is not a "ceremony." As outlined above, the Court
does not need to know whether or not your spouse "agrees, or wants"
the divorce. If a Respondent wishes to contest the issues, then the
procedure to make those issues apparent would be to "appear"
in the case by filing a Response or other responsive pleading to the
Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
Back to FAQ
California law persons can become divorced or they might become legally
separated. Below, the differences between Dissolution
of Marriage and Legal Separation are discussed.
DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE
A divorce, or dissolution of marriage will legally end the marriage
and restore the parties to the status of single persons. The legal grounds
for divorce in California are that the parties have "irreconcilable
differences." There is no requirement for the production
of evidence of marital breakdown, other than the assertion of one of
the parties that "irreconcilable differences" have arisen in the marriage.
Divorce is not a reward for innocence or punishment
for guilt, and the court will not divide property or award spousal maintenance
on the basis of marital misconduct, unless intentional waste or fraud
is established. The primary responsibility for the terms of the decree
rest with the parties rather than with the Court. The court needs to
ensure that the division of property, child support and spousal maintenance
provisions are not unfair to either person.
is available by Certified Mediators through Attorney Alternative
for couples desiring assistance, but if either spouse will not willingly
participate, the reality of marital failure must be addressed through
For more information on our Mediation services, click
the link at far left.
Legal separations are virtually identical to dissolution of marriage
cases, but in legal separation, the marriage is not ended. However,
the marital property and debts are divided and custody and support of
children are determined. Community property rights terminate in a legal
separation case. The grounds for legal separation are that one of the
parties desires to permanently reside separate and apart from the other, and communicates that fact to the other party.
The court can grant a legal separation decree even if
one of the parties objects. Legal separations can be converted
to Dissolution of Marriage before and after the entry of the Judgment
of Legal Separation case. If it is converted after the Judgment, then
the Court will usually presume that the provisions in the Judgment should remain
the same, except that the parties are restored to the status of single
persons, unless one opf the Parties files papers stating the provisions hjave changed.
The property disposition approved in the legal separation
Judgment "may not be revoked or modified unless the court finds the
existence of conditions that justify the reopening of a judgment under
the laws of this state" - in other words, the Judgment of legal separation
is deemed to be final with respect to the division of property, unless fraud or other serious conditions are present.
Back to FAQ
SPOUSAL SUPPORT (ALIMONY)
In any dissolution of marriage (divorce) or legal separation case, the
court is authorized under the law to order spousal support (alimony)
for either spouse. The parties may agree in writing as to the amount
of maintenance to be awarded the supported spouse, and it may be made
part of the final divorce order. In the absence of a written agreement,
the court may award support in amounts and for the periods of time as
it deems just, without regard to marital misconduct and after considering
all relevant factors.
Spousal support may be awarded by the court for specific
reasons including one of the parties:
*lacks sufficient property, including property apportioned
to such spouse, to provide for his or her reasonable needs, or
*is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment
or is the custodian of a child whose age or condition is such that
the custodian should not be required to seek employment outside the
*lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to support himself
or herself, or
*had a marriage of long duration and is of an age
which may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate
to support himself or herself.
Alimony can be awarded for any of these reasons, but
is also based on the other person's ability to pay. However, an obligation
to pay spousal maintenance cannot be avoided by voluntarily reducing
the ability to pay, like quitting your job to avoid paying support.
Unless otherwise agreed in writing or stated in the
decree, a spousal support award is terminated upon the death of either
party or the remarriage of the party receiving support.
Back to FAQ
In all divorce cases, California law requires the court
to enter orders concerning the support and custody of any minor children
of the mariage being dissolved. The Judge is bound by law to do
so. Child Support and Child Custody are separate but related issues
from each other.
In a sole custody arrangement, one of the parents is
charged to be responsible for and deemed suitable to make day to day
decisions concerning the child's activities and development. The noncustodial
parent's rights are not diminished, and he or she is entitled to visitation
and frequent access with the child, before and after the entry of a
The Child Custody and Visitation Order will state the
frequency and duration that a non-custodial parent is entitled to have
the child, unless there are reasons to restrict visitation. The
modern view is that, "conduct of the parties (immoral or otherwise)
not affecting the relationship with the children is not considered."
The access (visitation) guidelines are based on certain
premises, including that both parents are fit, both desire to have an
ongoing relationship with the child and that it is in the child's best
interest for each parent to have frequent, meaningful and continuing
access to the child.
In California, the amount of child support to be paid
by one parent to the other is based on, among other things:
* each parents' incomes and expenses,
* the custody arrangement which the parents will observe,
* the percentage of custodial time each parent has with the child(ren),
* whether or not there are minor children from a relationship other
than the marriage for which one of the parents is financially responsible,
* certain unusual or extraordinary classifications of expenses which
may increase or reduce the support payment amount, depending upon
which party incurs the expenses,
* certain job-related issues, such as mandatory union dues or required
work clothing (uniforms),
* other factors, but always considered in light of the best interests
of the children.
Back to FAQ
is the difference between a Lawyer and a Divorce Paralegal or Legal Document Assistant?
A Divorce Paralegal or Legal Document Assistant cannot appear for another person in Court
or negotiate on another parties' behalf. A Divorce Paralegal or Legal Document Assistant
may prepare legal documents and perform other services such as filing
the pleadings with the Court, calendering and generally administering
the case to insure compliance with deadlines and procedures set under
the Rules of Court.
In choosing a Divorce Paralegal or Legal Document Assistant, you should
be cautious. Less than one-half of Divorce Paralegal or Legal Document Assistant businesses
started in the last year are still open for business. However, Attorney
Alternative has been serving Southern California since
1994 with excellent and professional document preparation services.
We are licensed, bonded and registered as required by law.
You need to be aware of what legal experience the Divorce Paralegal or Legal Document Assistant has, such as their work experience with law firms
and attorneys, and the capacity in which they were engaged. It is extremely
important to consider the extent of experience the Divorce Paralegal or Legal Document Assistant has had in related fields such as Creditor/Debtor Law, Community Property,
Real Estate Law and Probate Law, since the divorce case will almost
always involve issues relative to those areas of law.
Divorce Paralegal or Legal Document Assistant services who "just do
divorces" are usually covering their lack of knowledge and experience
in these related areas. Attorney Alternative staff
have extensive experience in the fields of law related to divorce.
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