Certified Legal Document Preparer
A certified legal document preparer (CLDP) is someone who is certified by the state to help prepare legal documents for people who do not have lawyers. Some of the requirements to become a CLDP include passing a background and fingerprint check, passing a rigorous examination, and having at least two years of law-related experience (usually by working at a law firm or a court) and/or at least 24 credits of law-related education. Because of this last requirement, many CLDPs are also paralegals. Unlike a paralegal, however, a CLDP does not work under the supervision of a lawyer.
A CLDP must make it clear to any customer that the CLDP is not a lawyer and cannot give legal advice. However, according to the Code that governs CLDPs, he/she can give a customer “general factual information pertaining to legal rights, procedures, or options available.”
For example, a CLDP cannot answer the question, “Should I ask for spousal maintenance?” but he/she can show the customer the statute regarding what the court considers when deciding whether to grant spousal maintenance (in this case, ARS 25-319).
Why Would I Use a CLDP?
In a family court matter like a divorce, unless the relationship is particularly contentious and/or the community property/debt situation is particularly complex, a person may benefit from using a CLDP, especially at the beginning stages of the case; after all, a CLDP is less expensive than hiring a lawyer, and many of the documents required to begin a divorce proceeding may seem complicated and intimidating. In short, you may save money but still rest easy knowing your documents are correct.