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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 - Dissolution Case Management
This page summarizes the Family Law Advanced Paralegal Certification program on Dissolution Case Management. 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
  • 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 Dissolution Case Management.

Course Description

Against a background of Constitutional and federal law, state law is the primary law of marriage and divorce in the United States. Basic principles and models of divorce, including alimony, child custody, and property division, remain fairly consistent through all states and territories. Applicable law, rules, procedures, and terminology may vary significantly from state to state and within states from city to city. “Custody” and “alimony” in one court may be “parenting time” and “spousal support” in another. However, from traditional models to modern innovation, through variations in practice and terminology, the basic underlying purpose of this area of practice is to resolve all issues in dissolution of a marriage, in a manner that is efficient and fair to all persons involved.

This course concentrates on practice and procedure in the area of marriage dissolution case management. Modules in the course begin with the legal framework that provides the substantive and procedural structure for marriage and dissolution; legal requirements, obligations, and benefits of a valid marriage; the process of marriage dissolution; issues to be resolved in dissolution cases; information intake, client interviews, and case assessment; preparation and initiation of a dissolution case; discovery in a dissolution case; and resolution of the case, including entry, enforcement, and modification of court orders.

Click here  to open "Role of the Paralegal" in dissolution case management. This is the basis for this advanced course. 

Prerequisite Knowledge

This course is designed for paralegals that are knowledgeable or experienced in the management of marriage dissolution cases. Familiarity with state constitutions and statutes, practice and procedure forms, internet research, basic taxation, basic litigation, agency law, contracts, liability, and remedies will be advantageous.

Course Modules

The Advanced Paralegal Certification course on Family Law - Dissolution Case Management  consists of successful completion of 9 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 the marriage, annulment, and divorce: primary issues in dissolution, including jurisdiction, validity of marriage, annulment, child custody, property division, alimony, and marital agreements; state statutory law, common law, and model statutes; related state family law, such as emancipation, parental rights, domestic violence, paternity, enforcement of support orders, and family expense statutes; other relevant state law, including property, contracts, torts, probate, civil procedure, agency, gifts, debtor-creditor law, and local regulation; Constitutional provisions relevant to dissolution issues, including due process, equal protection, full faith and credit, the Contract Clause, and the right to privacy; and relevant issues in federal law, including federal abstention policy, federal statutes, incentive legislation, tax and welfare laws, conventions and treaties, federal income tax, and civil rights.
2. Marriage
Module 2 discusses the legal governing the substantive and procedural requirements of valid marriages. Topics include the legal capacity to enter into marriage, including age requirements, health screening, mental condition, and gender restrictions; formal requirements, including marriage licenses, waiting periods, premarital counseling, solemnization, recording, and proxies; state prohibitions on marriage, including consanguinity restrictions, waiting period after divorce, polygamy, and fraud; marital contracts, consent, covenant marriage, breach of promise, and seduction; benefits of marriage, including rights at death, civil procedure, tax benefits, family benefits, and community property; obligations of marriage, such as spousal support obligations, doctrine of necessaries, and medical care; the origins, formation, and legal status of informal (common-law) marriages; domestic partnerships and related issues, including same-sex marriage, the Defense of Marriage Act, and validity and other states; and premarital agreements.
3. Dissolution of Marriage
Module 3 examines the legal process of dissolving valid, void, and voidable marriages. Topics include the history of dissolution from early English court procedures, marital status and common-law England, equitable divorce, and annulment; void and voidable marriages; fault-based divorce and grounds required, including abandonment, adultery, cruelty; covenant marriages; fault defenses, such as condemnation, consent, collusion, and equal fault; annulment and its consequences, including the relation back doctrine and effect on previous alimony; the historical trend to no-fault divorce; separate maintenance; conflicts of law in dissolution, including the solemnization rule, the significant relationship rule, and invalidation of marriages obtained in other states; issues and law applicable to children in a dissolution case, including statutory empowerment, custody, support, visitation, and paternity; and an overview of treatment of property, debts, and alimony.
4. Dissolution Issues
Module 4 discusses specific issues in management of typical dissolution cases. Topics include an overview of jurisdiction and residency requirements; parties to a dissolution case, including petitioners and respondents, children, third parties, and state; jurisdiction for and the effect of annulment, and its effect on children; issues in spousal support, including earning ability, temporary support, and rehabilitative, reimbursement, and permanent alimony; the history and application of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act; child custody, including standards for awarding custody, factors in determining the best interest of the child, Constitutional factors, parental conduct, joint custody plans, parenting time and parenting plans, and other interested parties; visitation and access to children of the marriage, including the purpose and types of visitation; jurisdiction for child support and use of child support guidelines; and issues in property division, including identification of property subject to division, separate, marital, and community property, also valuation, methods of division, and the effect of fault.
5. Information Intake and Case Assessment
Module 5 examines the process of the initial client contact, interviewing, gathering information and documents, and case assessment involved in initiating a dissolution case. The module discusses the process of initial client intake, including the initial contact, treatment of potential clients, intake forms, consideration of exigent circumstances, and defending clients; initial consultations, including case assessment information, preparation for initial meetings, verifying client information, and case evaluation; representation agreements, including retainers, information and documents provided to the client, releases, and client expectations; essential information needed from the client, including relevant names and addresses, place and length of residence, and telephone numbers; education and military service information; information documentation of any previous litigation involving the marriage, including reconciliations, the date of separation, and previous marriages; sources of income, including current employers, employment history, tax returns and payment records, investments, and family resources; information and documents related to children of the marriage, including the existence of a paternity issue, school records and performance, caregiver information, and whether any children are old enough to express a preference for custody; mental and physical health information and records, especially the disabilities, and necessary releases for obtaining information; and property records and other documentation.
6. Case Initiation
Module 6 focuses on the preparation and process of initiating a dissolution case. Topics include the form of the initial pleadings, including local rules and forms, the petition or complaint, the summons, and case scheduling; the contents of the initial petition, including the required information, grounds for dissolution, and relief requested; required documents and attachments, including supporting affidavits, motions for temporary relief, financial statements, compliance certifications, and service of process; requirements for pleading jurisdiction, including subject matter, personal, and in rem jurisdiction, jurisdiction for child custody and support issues, and proper venue; responsive pleadings, including answers, default, and defendants who cannot be found; temporary orders, including their form and timing, hearings, nature of the order, preparation of motions, frequently used motions, and ex parte relief; living arrangements during a dissolution case, including temporary restraining orders, possession of the marital home, expenses, accommodation of children, use of cars, temporary spousal support, and attorney's fees; and temporary orders regarding child custody and support, including temporary custody, the best interest of the child, temporary child support payments, emergency jurisdiction, and temporary visitation arrangements.
7. Discovery
Module 7 is an overview of the discovery process and issues in a dissolution case. Topics include the purposes and policy considerations for discovery in dissolution, including typical issues, types of information exchanged, the clients participation in the process, instructions, and special rules; initial financial affidavits, including required compliance, form and content, attached documents, assistance of experts, updates, and review of the opposing party's information; the purpose and use of requests for admission; use of interrogatories, including their purpose, objections, and compelling answers; request for production of documents, including types of documents requested, computers, confidentiality agreements, review of documents, and calculations of information; medical examinations, including types and conditions, the valuation of disabilities, application to issues, assisting clients, and motions to compel; use of depositions and their frequency and purpose, third-party witnesses, and subpoenas; and use of independent investigation personnel and techniques.
8. Resolution, Enforcement, and Modification
Module 8 is a discussion of resolution of the case, with entry, enforcement, and modification of resulting orders. Topics begin with forms of alternative dispute resolution, including mandatory participation rules, mediation, the role of the mediator, arbitration, settlement conferences, collaborative divorce, and settlement agreements; uncontested hearings and default judgments; pretrial issues, such as enforcement and modification of temporary orders, motions to compel and motions in limine, and excuse from mediation; trial preparation, updates to certification, pretrial conferences, and subpoenas; trial issues, including trial to the court, presentation of evidence, child witnesses, experts, and court decisions; orders and decrees, and incorporation of agreements; and modification of orders, including jurisdiction for modification, modifiable elements, modification process, grounds for modification, and bankruptcy.
9. Taxes and Forms
Module 9 ends the course with an overview of essential tax forms that a paralegal may frequently encounter in dissolution cases. Topics begin with federal tax forms, code and regulations, including information returns, schedules, calculation and information forms, instructions, and publications; employer tax withholding, W-Series forms, and employer’s report of wages and taxes withheld; Information returns, including 1099 series, distributions by estates and trusts, and distributions by business entities; capital gains, including capital assets, basis, and loss limitations; and Individual tax returns – long form, 1040 schedules, simplified returns, income not subject to withholding, and amended returns.