How To Hire An Independent Paralegal


Statistics show in some states about 75% of divorces and 60% of bankruptcies are done without lawyers.

Many law firms, in many states, now not only employ paralegals, BUT will bill you for their paralegal’s time–anywhere from $75 to $150 an hour.


  • Make sure that they are licensed with the state and have no complaints filed.

  • Be sure to ask the paralegal what exactly their fees cover. Do they charge an hourly rate? Does their flat rate include providing you with self-help information? Will they be filing your paperwork for you? Does the paralegal’s fee include the court filing fee?

  • Hire a paralegal service that advertises honestly. Ads that say something like, “Divorce Preparation Just $199” is not one of them.

  • Hire a paralegal who belongs to a professional association.

  • Hire a paralegal who recognizes the possibility that some situations may require an attorney. A trustworthy paralegal will not hesitate to tell you when your situation is beyond the scope of a non-attorney. A good paralegal will even help you find an affordable alternative.

Collection Agency and Credit Card Debts

Some of my clients are facing challenging times. Often those challenges are accompanied with accumulating credit card debts. When unpaid credit card accounts end up in creditors hands, expect the following: constant calls, several calls possibly from different creditors for the same debt, creditors calling your employer to locate you, calls from the debt collection agencies. Do not panic! Credit card debts are, most times, without collateral. Your credit score will suffer, but you will live just fine. Forget the embarrassment part – you are not alone. Most of us have experienced this situation. Your interest rate will increase when you apply for loans and it will be harder to get another credit card. We all know how important is to get one, say for example, you are looking to rent a car for that long planned weekend getaway.

Under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, it is illegal for debt collectors to do the following:

  • Contact your employer or neighbors about your debt

  • Call you late at night or at unreasonable hours.

  • Call you at work.

  • Call you repeatedly.

We all know how important is to get one, say for example, you are looking to rent a car for that long planned weekend getaway. The debt that creditors claim you own may not be legitimate, or the interest rates and the settlement they propose is too high. Contact me to find out how to dispute your debts and stop creditors calls.

Pets Entering UK

Recently I had a client who came in to share her long, wrenching story that included self-litigation involving a veterinary clinic. Her ten years old cat was in quarantine for twenty – one day at the UK border. Cat has made it just fine, after all, but emotional and financial impact that my client suffered were noticeable. She was not suing the veterinary clinic for bad treatment of the cat or lack of professional experience, but she was suing for incorrect and insufficient information that were provided by the veterinary clinic for the cat to enter UK, therefore cat was denied the access. How may times were you in this situation? Legal documents can have a powerful impact on your life on your affairs.

You can enter or return to the UK with your pet cat, dog or ferret if it:

  • has been microchipped.

  • has a pet passport or third-country official veterinary certificate.

  • has been vaccinated against rabies – it will also need a blood test if you’re traveling from an ‘unlisted country’

Your pet must have the record of her primary rabies shot and not only the most recent one.

Do not take your pets to any foreign country without making sure that you completely informed yourself of entrance requirements. Pets are our family. The outcome of such cases and staying in quarantine can be extremely stressful and some pets have hard time re-adjusting. Please keep them safe.

Picture credit: Pets4Home. uk

Loneliness and Isolation

Many of my clients simply need to talk. They are facing life crises during which they often stay social isolated. Years ago, most of our problems were discussed and resolved with help of friends and families. Modern age has brought us the epidemic of loneliness.

Scientists are showing that the loneliness has become a  crisis  and social isolation is  emerging to pose as grave a threat to public health as obesity or substance abuse. Neuroscientists have identified regions of the brain that respond to loneliness, and a powerful body of research shows that lonely people are more likely to become ill, experience cognitive decline, and die early.

Lori (the names are changed due to privacy), has come to look for help with her separation agreement from many years ago. The biggest challenge we had was finding her ex husband who had disappeared on her very long time ago. In many of our get together meetings, I was learning more about Lori. This wasn’t a about Lori getting more money from her ex husband. This was about Lori who carried a pain of isolation and loneliness caused by her addictions. One of them was alcohol. She was in recovery phase when I met her. Lori kept finding “legal reasons” to meet with me several more times. I knew this was not about paperwork. She needed to talk and she needed a friend.

Isolation is a serious cause of depression. The more we are isolated, the more we feel hopeless. My Lori didn’t end well. She moved again and this time she stopped contacting me. How many Lories do we have trying and living out there? Social media and instant messengers have replaced much of face to face interaction. More often than not, they contribute to overall loneliness of modern times.

Join my group to chat:

His Missed Appointment

Last week in my career was a very difficult one. Not only that I had several cancellations from my new clients, I have also lost one of my dearest from Black Canyon City. It was that time of the year that we needed to revisit his estate plans and carefully consider some of the options. There were problems with caregivers and several other things that were urgent to address. We talked for awhile and I scheduled the appointment. My calendar was full, but I squeezed him in for the next week. It was a hard weekend and weather in Arizona brings brutal summer days. Many of my clients are elderly and prefer not to leave their homes when the heat and monsoons hit the State of Arizona. That is one of the reasons why I started my mobile services offer.

He was not feeling well. He contacted me to reschedule the appointment. There are times when my appointments are reschedule and yet they never happened. Some of my clients are 85 + old. My heart feels heavy thinking of their lives and what they are going through. I too, have elderly parents. I remember my own life and my own fears of losing them. What is in this life for us, after all, if not trying to live to its fullest, as there is no end,  and be there for each other whenever we can? We hope for the best and take what we have. We make out of it the best thing for us. Something that is worth living for and something that others will remember us about. Long stories yet to be told, and some great story tellers yet to be met…


Change of Venue and Domestication in Arizona

What is domestication of your legal files? You may have had to got through this process already, if you moved from one state to another, or even from one country to another. Domestication in Arizona is  process that involves  multiple steps that I listed  below. For detailed information or to meet with me to help you prepare domestication documents, please contact me directly.

(1)  “Authenticated”  copies of the documents.  (Authentication requires a specific seal or a certain number of seals affixed to the copies by the clerk – it is dictated by statute).

(2) Pleading called “Notice and Affidavit of Filing Foreign Decree”. You will need to sign the “Notice and Affidavit” before a notary public.

(3) Cover Sheet and filing copies for the Court

(4) “Proof of Mailing” filed with the court.

There is a waiting period involved before you can take any action to modify the judgement or any other applicable request for the documents that you are domesticating.


Get Rid Of Your Anger Now

Unresolved anger is # 1 enemy of love.

The root cause of this anger is usually in childhood or within our formative age and it has not been addressed until adulthood. The angry person simply shuts down and does not allow to be loved or to love. That person will distance himself/herself while in denial. This anger is typical quiet and hidden. An angry partner does not appear angry, frequently denies any anger and even makes the other partner responsible for the distance in relationship (finding faults in partner). The goal is to protect an angry person’s  feelings, who was once hurt and now will not allow anybody close to their heart.

As a result, unresolved anger keeps both partners in relationship equally miserable and is a most common cause of marriages ending up in divorce. 

Are you getting mad over little things, interruption, being a complainer, holding a grudge, turning your face red, being overly sensitive, being cold-hearted? Those are signs of visible anger. A hidden anger is often unnoticed.

What can we do to find a way out of unresolved anger and rebuild our relationship?

Defining offense, allowing time to grieve, understanding the offender, releasing the offender, looking for the pearls in the offense, putting feelings in writing, reaching out to the offender are all equally important phases in overcoming anger. Fears and unfulfilled expectations often define anger. Understanding the offender explains the side that we are unaware of, unless we are willing to embrace it in a process of overcoming anger that we feel.  Anger is destructive emotion. Saying no to anger is saying no to misery and opening heart to freedom, inner peace and happiness.

Pulling Your Life Together

Recently I met with a lovely couple to help them with their estate planning. As I mentioned earlier, my goal is to provide a personalized attention to all my clients and help them make good decision, by developing their self assurance and confidence level. I hear their stories and like to learn about their lives. For many of my clients, the decision to organize their the important matters of their lives starts after much soul searching and at the end of the healing process that they have endured.

It strikes me really hard that many people struggle trusting one another. Many have lost faith even in their closest family members. Why is this happening is such alarming pace and why are we starting to depend less and less on those who supposed to be our closest confidants in life? Perhaps we lost our faith in life ….

Here are some of the most impact reasons that can affect how we see life and our trust levels:

  • Loss of loved ones (though death, break-up or forcible separation)
  • Loss of friendship (being cut off by the close friend or lover)
  • Loss of our health
  • Failing in our desired goals
  • Loss of direction and purpose

I cannot stress more how important it is for us to continue to work on bettering ourselves every singe day. Many of the life circumstances that we face are not avoidable. While we cannot avoid the impact that those circumstances caused, we can chose how to deal with them.  Once the normal grieving stage is completed, we need to start loving life again and allow ourselves to rebuild trust in people. We start believing and living heart – fully because it’s worth the pursuit. We expand our vision, attitude and beliefs. We experience ourselves as peacemakers and become more curious wondering what we learned from our bad experiences and what does it tell us about a life. Developing trust in people and faith in life, after the traumatic experience is a process, however it is not necessary to get trapped in a loss of faith and depression. By regaining the faith in life and relationships, we are ready to open the door to love and pursuit of happiness.

Why Do I Brag About Self – Love

The essence of being happy and having a fulfilled life is loving your own self. Trust yourself that you can do it and you will do it. Feeling the anxiety up to some level when we are about to embrace a change, take a new job, start a new relationship or move some place else are normal reactions caused by the degree of uncertainty when stepping outside the comfort zone.

However, lack of self confidence and low self esteem will prevent us from taking any action in general. And so we wait. Because we think we will fail, we don’t even start!

I had a number of clients who met with me, asking me to prepare their divorce  papers.  With time, I learned how to recognize various stages in human relationships and I could recognized those. They weren’t ready! They needed a counseling to help them deal with their emotions or perhaps a best friend to listen. For those who went through it, they would agree that one of the most traumatic events  in personal life is  divorce.

We often think “if this” and “if that”…we would be happy. That is unlikely to be true. Declaring Happiness is decision and not a condition. The decision of happiness drives desired actions that consequently end with desired results. “What if” replaces “I will”. Happiness and fulfillment, above all, is based on actions. The ultimate responsibility is ours, thus limiting the power of thoughts, people and events that are causing us to self doubt our own abilities in achieving happiness is detrimental to a successful live and personal well being, including our romantic relationships. Being in love with your life is the ultimate factor that determines your happiness and how you resonate to the others, as well as how successful you will feel. Success is relative and means a different  things to different people. Love, on the other hand, is the constant and the ultimate power that starts with Self. Healing is a process that leads to loving yourself again…

Stonewalling In Relatinships

Has your relationshiop experienced stonewalling and how are you affected? 

Stonewalling is absolute refusal to consider your partner’s perspective. If you listen at all, you do it dismissively or contemptuously.

According to Gottman’s Institute, a stonewalling in a strong predictor of a marriage or a relationship break up in over 90% of the cases.

While predictors such as criticism, defensiveness, and contempt are gender neutral, stonewalling is more typically done by men.

Men are less likely than women to know when they stonewall, because it seems so natural for them. A sure sign that a man is stonewalling is if he believes his partner nags him. That means he’s not listening. The nagging partner is an unheard partner.

There are two types of stonewalling; aggressive and defensive. 

In aggressive stonewalling, the stonewaller knows that the silence, cold shoulder, and emotional isolation hurt his partner. He stonewalls to gain leverage or power. This is a common tactic in battering relationships, in which the more powerful partner systematically controls or dominates the less powerful one.

In defensive stonewalling, conflict seems overwhelming to the stonewallers. It seems that their only choice is to shut it out (stonewall) or crush it with aggression. So shutting it out seems the better of the two. Of course, treatment teaches them that there are other choices, such as emotion regulation, engagement, and connection.

The experience of being stonewalled tends to be different for men and women. Men who are stonewalled feel frustrated – their goal of resolution is blocked by the stonewalling. But the experience is downright painful for women who are stonewalled, as they are apt to feel isolated – a sense that no one cares about them. To understand the effects of stonewalling on most women, a man need only think of how bad humiliation feels. That’s how isolation feels to his partner, which is why she tries so hard to break through the stone wall.

Note: Content found in Psychology Today.

Steven Stosny, Ph.D.

%d bloggers like this: