New firm helps navigate the court system
Arizona Family Law Center offers legal document preparationEric Petermann
ERIC PETERMANN | HERALD/REVIEW
Mon, 04/15/2013 - 12:10am
SIERRA VISTA — A unique service that provides access to the legal system, without the usual cost associated with hiring an attorney, is now available in Sierra Vista.
Arizona Family Law Center opened Feb. 1, offering people legal document preparation for matters including divorce, name change, bankruptcy, wills and incorporations.
The service empowers people who want to represent themselves in the legal system for simple, uncontested matters.
“Everyone should have access to the court, to the legal process,” said Craig Liming, an owner of the firm together with his wife, Laura Cardinal “This is another avenue for people who have less means or don’t know whether they need an attorney, but need some general direction.”
The process begins with a certified legal document preparer, who meets directly with clients and figures out exactly what is needed to accomplish the desired court outcome.
“There are a lot of people who don’t necessarily need an attorney, but they need the proper legal documents, and those documents need to be completed correctly,”.
The Arizona Supreme Court certifies all document preparers, and must travel to Phoenix to successfully complete an exam to become certified.
The state Supreme Court also oversees the operation of all firms involved in the practice of legal document preparation, and Arizona Family Law Center obtained its license to practice on Jan. 28, after an extensive background check by the court.
Arizona is one of two states — the other being California — that recognize and regulate the practice of legal document preparation. Other services are advertised online, and many preparers do their work outside an office.
“It’s somewhat unique that this is a ‘brick and mortar’ business, but that has its advantages,” Liming said.
Unlike online services, or starting the process with an attorney, Arizona Family Law Center begins with a $100 consulting fee that helps clients understand exactly what they need to navigate the legal system.
A Certified Legal Document Preparer meets with clients regularly who have begun completing the necessary paperwork to represent themselves, but often need help understanding the forms and what exactly is being asked.
“People forget to ask for what they’re entitled to, or they exclude things they should include,”. “Sometimes they don’t serve the other party, or they don’t understand there are certain rules that must be followed.
Other clients enter the office and after a consultation, and it is determined they need legal counsel, they are refered to local attorneys.
“There are no attorneys here, but we do have a referral list, and we do work with local attorneys when that need arises,”.
Compared to online services, or legal “kits,” that can be purchased at an office supply store, Liming said Arizona Family Law Center offers peace of mind and confidence that things are being done correctly.
“We’re not representing people in court, and we’re not giving legal advice, but if you retain us this provides access to the court and makes sure that the correct documents are prepared correctly,” Liming said.
Arizona Family Law Center is located in the Wick Building, at the corner of Wilcox Drive and Fab Avenue, at 333 W. Wilcox, suite 103 in Sierra Vista. For more information or to schedule an appointment, the firm can be contacted at (520) 459-4000.
This article has been edited for accuracy and timeliness by AZFLC.