Q: Can a paralegal write a stipulation of settlement for a divorce filing without a lawyer involved?
A friend says he can prepare all the divorce paperwork for me and my wife, and write up a stipulation of settlement also. I thought a lawyer would have to be involved somehow, but my friend says he can do it all by himself. He's a paralegal. It that legal?
A: The role and permitted duties of paralegals differ throughout the USA. In some states, paralegals are licensed and can perform certain functions that an attorney would otherwise have to do. Paralegals cannot practice law; only attorneys can do that. However, there is no legal requirement in NY that anyone particular must write a stipulation of settlement. The parties themselves can write it. So long as it comports with the applicable laws to be able to enforce it, contains any mandatory language and/or calculations that the particular jurisdiction may require and is executed in accordance with the local requirements, there should be no issue. But it must never be forgotten that a Stipulation is a contract and so parties who decide to do it themselves or utilize a para professional or even a non-attorney mediator may find themselves regretting not having obtained sound legal advice prior to their becoming bound to a contract that is very difficult to escape from.
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