Do I Need to Hire an Attorney?

In Arizona, there are many self-service forms available for certain areas of law. There are also certified legal document preparers who can draft certain legal forms. These services tend to have lower up-front costs than attorneys. Unfortunately, however, a person can end up paying more in the long run by failing to hire an attorney now.

When a non-attorney party represents himself or herself in Court, the party must follow the same rules as an attorney would. Though judges are often more lenient for pro se (self-represented) litigants, the parties still must follow the same procedural rules and evidentiary rules as a represented party. While the self-service forms are great guidelines for how to fill out certain court documents, we always recommend meeting with an attorney prior to filing the documents. A party can be held to the information provided in those documents, such as a civil complaint or a petition for dissolution of marriage. Though document preparers can guide a person to the correct documents, non-attorneys are not permitted to give advice to a client, and typically will not be held liable for what the party does or does not include in such documents.

As an example, if a party is filing for divorce and does not fill out a request for spousal maintenance in the complaint, then he may be barred from requesting spousal maintenance as divorce proceedings progress. In cases where the party completes a will or estate planning document incorrectly, unfortunately once the mistake is discovered it is usually too late to correct the issue. In criminal cases including DUI’s, once a plea is accepted in Court the defendant can no longer challenge the charge unless a legitimate reason for appeal exists. In all of these examples, a party could have benefited from having an attorney in the beginning stages of the cause of action. Though legal fees are sometimes expensive, you can often pay less in the long run by making sure you have a knowledgeable attorney handle your case from the beginning.

The Carroll Law Firm offers competitive rates for estate documents as well as general document review.  Be sure to consult with an attorney prior to filing your documents in court. Set up your appointment by calling (623)551-9366 today.

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