What Does It Mean To Handle Your Divorce Pro Se?

By: David M. Siegel

Simply stated, to handle your divorce pro se, is to represent yourself throughout the proceedings without the assistance of a lawyer. You are, in fact, your own lawyer, representing yourself.

The expense of divorce is the main reason that one decides to represent himself, pro se. The cost of a divorce, including attorney fees, can range from fifteen hundred dollars for an uncontested case to five figures for a contested case. Thus, it is no wonder why many people decide to file on their own without an attorney. This is known as filing Pro Se. A pro se divorce where both parties are in agreement can be accomplished without an attorney. However, I would never recommend that someone files pro se. The process has become more and more specialized in terms of what documents need to be filed and the rules which must be complied with in finalizing the case.

Sometimes, but not often, self-representation is possible.

It truly depends upon the issues involved and the capabilities of the pro se litigant. It has worked in situations where: Both parties agree; There are no minor children; There are no issues in dispute; The party can dedicate the time to learn the process; There is no property to divide;

Importantly, many courts are not amenable to pro se litigants. The law and procedures must be followed just as if an attorney were involved. The court cannot make any accommodations simply because the person is not represented by counsel.

A pro se litigant can hire counsel at anytime during the proceeding. Thus, a person can do the best he can until the case is set for trial and then hire counsel to assist at the trial. The downside is that most attorneys will want a large retainer if the case is going to trial. A trial can last from days to weeks. Further, the attorney will have to catch-up and review what has occurred during the initial phases of the case. Lastly, the attorney will not have the ability to engage in further discovery or other fact finding protocols if the pro se litigant had previously waived the opportunity. For these reasons, it is not recommended that one represents himself pro se, unless the case is highly uncontested and no unresolved issues remain between the parties. For contested cases, it is always recommended that a highly skilled, experienced attorneyFeature Articles, handle the lawyering for the client.

Divorce and Infidelity
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