Pro Se Divorce
Summary in Divorce
A divorce in which each spouse represents himself or herself in court without a lawyer is a pro se divorce.
Pro se lawyering in a divorce works best in cases where the action is uncontested and without fault, in termination of a short-term marriage with no children, both spouses working, easily distributed assets and debts. When the parties control their own worst impulses, including revenge and selfishness, pro se lawyering can cut costs. Many couples file pro se using materials obtained online, with software and/or a web-based (on-line) service that helps divorcing spouses complete and prepare divorce papers, forms, and/or documents for filing with the court. Pro se online filing works only when the spouses are in agreement with one another about an uncontested divorce. Their divorce is a more affordable option because they can prepare their paperwork and file for divorce without a lawyer. When a party appears as a pro se litigant, he or she must understand that the other spouse’s lawyer cannot and will not assist him or her. No lawyer can represent both spouses in a divorce. Uncontested divorces make it is easy for a person to appear pro se, but even with this, it is a good idea to review the work of the divorce with a lawyer. It does not make for savings to have an inexpensive divorce and then have to return to court later to renegotiate a liveable child support agreement. A poorly planned divorce that ends in bankruptcy for one or both partners after it is final can more than offset the savings of a pro se divorce.
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#53: If you are divorcing in an "Equitable Distribution" state, please keep in mind that equitable does not mean equal, but rather what is fair. This means that property and debt is not always divided 50-50.
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