As a Family Law Attorney in Arizona, I am not a fan of people using paralegals in lieu of attorneys in most situations. Paralegals are not allowed to give legal advice, so you may end up with forms that are procedurally correct, but inappropriate for your situation. I have had to correct mistakes caused by using a paralegal on a number of occasions.
People tend to use paralegals because they cannot afford attorneys. First, if you just need forms, they are offered for free at the Maricopa County Superior Court website. Second, using a mediator to resolve your disputes may be a better option.
One of the main reasons people use mediators is because mediation is almost always much less expensive than a litigated case. People also choose mediation because it is less adversarial, less time consuming, less stressful, and it allows you to be in control of the outcome of your case. Going to trial is a risk. Even when you use a paralegal, absent an agreement, you still have to go to Court and fight to try to advance your various positions. In mediation, people in conflict can rely on a neutral person trained in conflict resolution (the mediator), to help them actually resolve their disputes peacefully.
If you want to use a paralegal or lawyer to draft your papers, you can still go to mediation to reach an agreement. You can even use an attorney in conjunction with a mediator. With an agreement, you do not have to go to Court; you only have to draft the agreement in final form (a Decree) for the Court’s approval and signature.
Alona M. Gottfried is a mediator and attorney in Arizona. If you have questions about mediation or family law, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500. This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be legal advice. See a legal professional before making legal decisions.
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