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On April 30, 2014, The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) granted accreditation to the NALA Certified Paralegal program for demonstrating compliance with the NCCA Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs. NCCA is the accrediting body of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence. The NCCA Standards were created to ensure certification programs adhere to modern standards of practice for the certification industry.  The NALA Certified Paralegal program joins an elite group of more than 120 organizations representing over 270 certification programs that have received and maintained NCCA accreditation. More information on the NCCA is available online at www.credentialingexcellence.org/NCCA

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Family Law - Division of Property and Spousal Support
This page summarizes the Family Law Advanced Paralegal Certification program on Division of Property and Spousal Support. Use the links below to review the items, register or login to the course. If you have not already registered as a user on the NALA APC web site, click "Register for the Course." If you have already registered for this or another APC course, you have already created a user account, click "Login."

Paralegals who are not seeking the Advanced Paralegal Certification credential are welcome to register and take any APC courses as advanced continuing education programs. CLE credit is available upon completion of the courses from NALA for Certified Paralegals, and from various state CLE programs.

Prerequisite Knowledge Learning Contract Register for the course
Fee: $250 Members; $300 Non Members

Family Law APC Certification Courses and Credentials

The APC Certification Board has determined that an ACP designation in Family Law will be awarded to Certified Paralegals who complete the following courses:
  • Child Support, Visitation and Child Custody
  • Division of Property and Spousal Support
  • Adoption and Assisted Reproduction
  • Dissolution Case Management – to include critical information related to management of a case from intake to decree. This would include information related to litigation of the case, reading tax returns and unusual instances such as dissolution of same sex marriages.

Successful completion of all 4 courses will lead to a certification in Family Law. Upon completion of the individual courses, and all course requirements, qualified Certified Paralegals will receive an Advanced Paralegal Certification credential in the individual area.  Completion of this course will lead to an ACP credential in Division of Property and Spousal Support.

Course Description

This course concentrates on practice and procedure in the area of alimony and property division. Modules in the course cover the general topics of the legal framework through which alimony and property division obligations are imposed and enforced; property and support during marriage; identification of property for purposes of drafting agreements and litigation resolution; premarital and marital agreements; basic principles and particular issues in property distribution; alimony awards and agreements; discovery issues and alimony and property distribution; income tax consequences to awards; and modification and enforcement of alimony and property division agreements and orders.

Click here to open "Role of the Paralegal" in division of property and spousal support matters. This is the basis for this advanced course.

Prerequisite Knowledge

Those taking this course should be familiar with the following:

  • US and State Constitutions
  • State and Federal legislation
  • Judgments, Damages and Remedies
  • Basic Torts and Contracts
  • Practice & Procedure Forms
  • Internet Research
  • Trial Practice
  • Federal and State Civil Procedure
  • Statutes of Limitations
  • Basic Family Law 
Course Modules

The Advanced Paralegal Certification course on Family Law - Division of Property and Spousal Support consists of successful completion of 10 modules of text, assessments, and assignments. The modules and their objectives are as follows:

1. Legal Framework
Module 1 presents an overview of the law applicable to property division and alimony: Historical basis for alimony and approaches to property division; application of the Due Process, Equal Protection, Full Faith and Credit, and Contracts Clauses of the US Constitution; applicable federal law, including federal statutes, bankruptcy law, and federal income tax; state, and statutory law, including modeling uniform statutes; forms of concurrent property ownership available to married couples; state contract law, including marriage contract, agreements between spouses, or premarital agreements, and agreements in contemplation of divorce; and causes of action associated with marriage in dissolution, including interspousal tort immunity and competency, tort actions against third parties, interspousal torts, and annulment, separation, and dissolution proceedings.
2. Property and Support During Marriage
Module 2 discusses aspects of property ownership and support obligations relevant to a couple during marriage. Topics include property rights and issues before marriage, including gifts and expenditures in contemplation of marriage, breach of promise to marry, equity and fraud, and other causes of action; property and marriage, including the common law concept of the marital unit, development of Married Women's Property Acts, civil unions, domestic partnerships, and same-sex marriages; the nature, creation, and restrictions of forms of concurrent property ownership available to married couples, including tenancy in common, joint tenancy with right of survivorship, tenancy by the entirety, and community property; property rights of married persons at the death of the spouse, including dower, curtesy, collective shares, and rights in community property; family support obligations imposed by statute and common law, including creditors’ rights and the doctrine of necessaries; and finally a discussion of tort actions affecting damages and property rights of married couples, including interspousal tort liabilities, domestic violence issues, civil rights actions, marital rape actions immunities, and claims against third parties.
3. Identification of Property
Module 3 examines the paralegal's role in identifying the property of clients and other parties for various purposes, including drafting of marital agreements and litigation over alimony and property division. Topics include the purpose, scope, and process of an initial intake of information and preparation of preliminary financial disclosure statements; identification of assets and liabilities; identification of individual contributions and expenditures of parties to the marriage; family resources relevant to the property division and possible alimony obligation, including income, trusts, the health of the parties, and work and education history; classification of property as either separate or marital, including tracing the use of separate funds and character of increased value during a marriage; process of valuation of assets and use of experts; professional licenses, degrees, and career advancement, whether treated as property or as a contribution by the other spouse; business assets, including the goodwill, the spousal contributions, and methods of valuation; and vested and nonvested pensions, retirement plans, and military benefits.
4. Agreements
Module 4 examines the formation, validity, and enforceability of various types of agreements between married couples and couples contemplating marriage. Topics include the purposes for different types of agreements and public policy approaches and changes to agreements in the past several decades; the nature and scope of permissible agreements; formal and substantive requirements of valid premarital agreements; statutory and common-law requirements for validity, including full disclosure, fairness, and voluntariness; the elements of fraud, deception, duress, and advice of counsel and their relationship to validity and enforceability of agreement; reconciliation agreements in contemplation of divorce; settlement agreements and their relationship to divorce decrees; approaches used by model and uniform statutes; and the use and validity of agreements between unmarried couples of the same and opposite sex.
5. Principles of Property Division
Module 5 examines basic principles applied to the division of property in annulment and dissolution proceedings. The module discusses the process of property distribution, property subject to division by a court, statutory methods of distribution, and ways in which states have authorized courts to distribute property; a comparison of equal division and equitable distribution; the relationship between awards of alimony and distribution of property; the development and enactment of equitable division statutes; definitions of separate property and rules used by different states to distinguish separate property from the marital or community property; the concept of marital property at the time of dissolution of the marriage, including the effects of commingling and transmutation; factors used by courts to determine equitable distribution, including contributions by spouses, consideration of fault in the dissolution, sources of property, needs of the parties, and continuation of businesses; and distribution of separate and marital debts, creditors' remedies, and remedies for dissipation of assets.
6. Issues in Property Division
Module 6 focuses on particular issues in property division. Topics include the purpose and timing of setting a value on various types of property, especially real estate; methods of compensating a former spouse for contributions to the other spouse's career enhancement or acquisition of a professional license or degree; treatment of goodwill as a property asset, methods of valuation, and division of interest in business partnerships; division of pension and other retirement benefits, including ERISA preemption, qualified domestic relations orders, calculation of present value, buyouts, named beneficiaries, and military retirement benefits; an overview of tax issues related to alimony and property division, and including consideration in drafting decrees and agreements, refunds and liabilities, equitable division aspects, capital gains taxes, and penalties; dischargeability of obligations in bankruptcy, effective modification in bankruptcy court, avoidance of the bankruptcy automatic stay, and effectiveness of liens; and valuation of appreciation and income from separate property as marital property.
7. Spousal Support
Module 7 is an overview of alimony awards in divorce decrees and settlement agreements. Topics include the purposes and policy considerations for statutes and awards of alimony, types of payments, and types of alimony; statutory factors considered by courts in determining alimony awards, including both parties' earning ability, contributions to the marriage, the supporting spouse's ability to pay, the needs of both parties, the duration of the marriage, and the age and health of the parties; the definition and purpose of temporary alimony, limitations, temporary orders, and requirements; factors and awarding rehabilitative alimony, including employability, fault, formulation of targeted plans, reasonable career goals, and standards of proof; the nature and purpose of reimbursement alimony, its relationship to property division, considerations for the paying spouse’s future prospects of enhanced income, and the court's discretion; nature and purpose of permanent alimony, conditions under which it is awarded, waivers, and nominal support; procurement of insurance to ensure alimony payments; and termination of alimony.
8. Discovery
Module 8 discusses particular uses of the discovery process in dissolution proceedings regarding alimony and property division issues. Topics cover the use of typical discovery tools and the paralegal's assistance to the client during the process; use of interrogatories to gather information regarding the parties' earning ability, domestic information, and potential objections and motions to compel; requests for productions of particular types of documents, confidentiality agreements, document review, and verification of calculations; necessity and requested arrangements for medical exams, assistance to clients, conditions, and limitations on exams; frequency and substance of requests for admission, and responses to requests; necessity and preparation of financial affidavits and disclosure statements, including assistance of experts and review of opposing parties' statements; and independent background and computer investigations.
9. Income Taxes
Module 9 examines specific income tax issues regarding alimony and property division awards. Topics include rules under the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, and changes made by the Deficit Reduction Tax Reform Act of 1984; definitions used by the DRTRA, including divorce and separation instruments, payment rules, and process for claiming deductions and income; impact of child support obligations on deductibility of payments; recapture rules, including frontloading, the six-year rule, and the Tax Reform Act of 1986; tax consequences of property transfers and nonrecognition rules; spousal support trusts; protection of innocent spouses from liability for negligent and deliberate errors in tax returns by former spouse; gift and estate taxes in relation to property and spousal support obligations; and deductible of attorney’s fees incurred in dissolution proceedings.
10. Modification and Enforcement
Module 10 discusses procedures and requirements for modification and enforcement of alimony and property division awards. Topics include which types of court orders are and are not modifiable, court authority to modify awards, and the nature of obligations that are modifiable; procedures for modification of awards, including motions, grounds, and issues presented, and requirements for modification of interstate awards; establishing substantial changes in circumstances since the last award, including the needs and resources of the recipient and the payer, remarriage of either party, or cohabitation by the recipient, agreements between payer and recipient, and the death of the payer; modification based on separation agreements, circumstances under which agreements are incorporated or merged into court orders, indicia of incorporation, and exceptions; enforcement of decree obligations, including methods of enforcement, judgment liens, avoidance of fraudulent conveyances, wage withholding and garnishment, and property subject to execution; enforcement of awards by civil and criminal contempt proceedings, enforcement of out-of-state decrees; and enforcement of separation agreements.