Getting married is easy, but filing for divorce in Modesto is complicated. The forms are deceptively simple, but errors or failure to plead can cause problems later on. Moreover, self-represented parties often find themselves with scheduled hearings or even a trial. While parties who can afford an attorney have an easy source of legal advice, many self-represented parties need free legal advice or some level of assistance.
Again, hiring an attorney will establish a reliable source for legal advice and guidance. Moreover, an attorney will be responsible for your case so you don’t have to worry about learning the substantive law and court procedure; that’s your attorney’s job.
Paralegals are prohibited from giving legal advice. While the law is clear on that prohibition, some paralegals violate the law by providing legal advice. Many paralegals offer document preparation services and provide incorrect legal advice, and usually that advice doesn’t meaningfully assist their client. (After all, patients rarely remember everything their doctor said when they leave the exam room – procedural advice can be similar). To be clear, only an attorney is licensed to give legal advice, and you can hold an attorney liable when they make mistakes.
Court staff are prohibited from giving legal advice. You can read that policy here. The court’s role is to process and file documents – not act as attorneys. However, they can point you in the right direction for some self-help resources. For instance, they can point you in the right direction for information on court filing fees.
Family Law Facilitator
The County of Stanislaus Office of the Family Law Facilitator provides legal forms and procedural guidance in certain family law matters. They do not act as an attorney for a party, but they can help self-represented parties do the following:
- calculate child support
- explain how to modify support
- review documents for completeness
- explain what documents you need to get a support order
In general, the family law facilitator can offer general information on certain family law topics and procedural guidance. In other cases, the Stanislaus County Self Help Center will provide more assistance than the Family Law Facilitator’s Office. Both offices can help self-represented parties find legal research materials and forms.