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The FALDP Docket, Issue #07 -- Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers e-zine newsletter.
December 15, 2010

Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers

The FALDP Docket

Volume 1; Issue 7
December, 2010


ANNOUNCING OUR NEWEST RELEASE

THE NEWEST RELEASE TO OUR GROWING BOOKSTORE FALDP SELF-HELP GUIDES

Answer to Civil Complaint Answer to Civil Complaint - Ebook $14.95 - Workbook coming soon.

Includes interactive forms, sample forms with instructions, common affirmative defenses, glossary of legal terms found in civil lawsuits, and more.

The Answer to Civil Complaint & Summons is suitable for anyone who has been served with a Civil Complaint & Summons and needs to fill out and file an answer before time runs out.

With this latest addition we now have four books for sale on our website, amazon.com and eBay.com:

  • Modifying Child Support - Ebook $19.95 and Workbook $27.00
  • Simplified Divorce - Ebook $19.95 and Workbook $27.00
  • Family Adoptions - Ebook $29.95 and Workbook $37.60

The prices displayed are retail prices. If you are an FALDP member and wish to sell our books on your site, or wish to purchase in volume, please inquire about special pricing and affiliate programs.

AND

WE NEED REVIEWERS! If you review any of our books we will rebate 50% of your cost. Visit the FALDP How-To-Guides Bookstore.


WE'VE IMPROVED OUR WEBSITE

HAVE YOU NOTICED THE NEW LOOK OF WWW.FALDP.ORG?

Not only does the site have new colors, a new sleek design, but it also has new features to welcome in the new year. Every page has a third column for easier access to our Membership Directory, Member Application, Facebook page, Bookstore, and our new “Ask the Members” feature.

Ask the Members is a lead generator for our members -- we invite all members to sign up for it. As consumers questions come in, the questions will be forwarded to members who have signed up.

Send us an email with your areas of expertise. If you are expert at forms preparation for family law, bankruptcy, social security appeals, or any other area, let us know. We offer the Ask the Members as a free service to consumers. The answers are not intended to be legal advice, but are meant as helpful information.

Your by-line will include your contact information and a link to your website or e-mail, whichever you prefer. Have a look at the answer to the first question we received about child custody & civil indigence.


ANNOUNCEMENTS

New Year’s Resolution

Join FALDP - Reduced Membership fee for the last two weeks of January 2011.

For those of you who are planning to join after the first of the year, this is your chance. From January 15 through January 31, annual Membership fees are discounted 50%.

Basic Membership - $20.; and

Premium Membership - $32.50.

Look for the links and information in our next newsletter. Our yearly membership ends May 31st, and renewals begin June 1st.


FALDP Webinar Series

Beginning in February 2011, we will be holding a series of webinars focusing on the business of legal document preparation. We plan to have one in February, March, and April - dates to be announced.

The tentative schedule is as follows:

  • February - LDP Basics - "How to Earn a Living as a Legal Document Preparer" - An overview of the legal document preparer profession.
  • March - Marketing Your Business - Online and in your community.
  • April - LDP Ethics - Honesty and fair dealing in the marketplace.

We expect our site to exceed 1000 unique visitors for the month of December. We are pleased with the traffic. Our site is only six months old.

THANK YOU for the comments about consumer’s legal access. We welcome your suggestions, dialogue, and opinions. Your comments increase traffic.


Reminders

All FALDP Members - please post your information in our Member Directory. Use this link: to post your information.

Premium Members may post their information in up to three counties in and around their home Judicial Circuit, with the Premium Member badge displayed alongside their home county’s listing.

All Premium Members - please make sure we have your preferences so that we can send work referrals that you can use.

We need to know which legal areas you concentrate on; and also whether you run your business solely face to face; or also work over the phone and via the internet.

We try to send out work referrals on a rotating basis according to your preferences.

FALDP FORUM - Dear Members, LDP‘s, and the general public:

We have created a discussion forum: The FALDP Forum. There are sections for members only that requires registration; and also sections where anyone can join in the discussion.

This is brand new so we don’t have any members yet, besides Ken and me. Please join in, post your questions. Respond to the poll. Let your voice be heard.

WELCOME NEW MEMBERS! - We are growing. Welcome to all of our new members. If you have not yet received a welcome letter, FALDP logos to display in your advertising, or the link to the Member Directory -- please let us know.

Contact Ken Diaz - faldp@faldp.org or
Ruth Tick - floridalegalforms@yahoo.com


NEW FAMILY LAW FORMS

(reprinted from November issue)
NEW FAMILY LAW FORMS ON THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT’S SITE

ATTENTION: Legal Document Preparers who prepare family law forms, there are new sets of forms on the Florida Supreme Court’s website, www.flcourts.org

The forms for disestablishment of paternity; and forms for parental relocation with a minor child are now posted and available.

We are expecting to see a new form for Child Support Guidelines Worksheet anytime. The child support laws have changed. Changes go into effect January 2011. Among other changes, child support now terminates at the age of majority (18); and does not extend until age 19 if the child is still attending high school.

Also, the way that child care is calculated on the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet has changed to be in line with federal income tax guidelines. Expect to see more and more requests for Supplemental Petition for Modification of Child Support after the first of the year based on these law changes.


THE BIG PICTURE

Hiding the Ball

When I was studying for my B.A. in Legal Studies we had this one professor, Dr. Flagg who delighted in “hiding the ball”. Before a test he would tell us that some of the exam questions were hidden, buried somewhere in the textbook, case law, class discussion, or extra reading material. During an exam review he wouldn’t give us a hint as to what those questions were even about. A few months ago, I came across a former classmate, UCF class of 2002. She had continued to law school, I did not. We talked about good old Dr. Flagg, and what a tough prof he was. She told me that Dr. Flagg was more difficult than many of her professors at law school.

I learned a lot from Dr. Flagg. It turned out that I learned a lot of information that I didn’t need to pass his exams. That was exactly the point of his hiding the ball exercise. As any good teacher will assert, the point of taking courses, is not to pass the test, but to learn the material.

However, I believe it is unfair and inappropriate for the ball to be hidden from legal consumers. In Florida, clerks of courts, are not allowed to choose forms for consumers. Choosing legal forms for another person, is considered legal advice, according to the Florida Bar rules governing the unlicensed practice of law. The question that sticks in my mind is that if a consumer knows what he wants to do, say modify his child visitation, is telling that consumer that he needs a Supplemental Petition for Modification of Parenting Plan/ Time-Sharing Schedule and Other Relief legal advice? Is it?

That consumer already knows what he wants to do. He simply doesn’t know the name of the form. Often, when a consumer asks the clerk of court for a form to modify his child visitation, he is sold a package of forms. The Supplemental Petition is in the package, as are the other forms that must be filed with it. Fair enough. Again, however, the ball is hidden. Along with the form the consumer needs, and the forms that must be filed with it; are forms that might be needed, depending on that consumer’s precise circumstances.

Now it is the consumer’s task to go through all of the forms and determine which ones he really needs. And he wonders if he doesn’t need all those forms, why were they included in the package to begin with.

With luck, that consumer is an above average reader. If not, the ball is hidden yet again, and he won’t be able to read the forms’ instructions. The instructions for the Florida Supreme Court approved family law forms for pro se litigants are written at a first year college level. According to the National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS), over 50% of Floridians have less than a first year college reading level. If you like statistics, follow this link - https://www.casas.org/lit/litcode/Detail.CFM?census__AREAID=10

The Consumer Product Safety Commission requires installation and safety instructions for infant car seats to be written at a 5th grade level. This federal agency recognizes that many consumers are unable to read and comprehend complex instructions; and that a child could die from a parent’s lack of reading skills.

In my opinion, family law matters are as important to families as child safety. In fact, Florida courts support the doctrine of “the best interests of the child” in all family law matters. My question: Is the child’s best interest being served if the ball is hidden? Are the child’s interests served if legal access is so difficult that parents finally give up?


RESEARCH HELP

We need your customers’ family law stories -- their adventures, perils, and successes navigating the court system. Every one of them has a story. I want to know how well pro se litigants are able to get the job done.

Are your customers educating themselves? Are they being intimidated by opposing attorneys? What about judges? Are the family law mediators helping or hindering the process?

When you speak to someone with a compelling story ask them if they are willing to speak with me, so that I can share their story with others.

Ruth Tick: floridalegalforms@yahoo.com

Also don’t forget to make a comment about access to the courts for pro se litigants on the FALDP site. The article is found at the following link:

http://www.faldp.org/legal-access.html

We value your opinions!



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