What is a Pro Se Divorce?

A.E. Freeman

A pro se divorce is when one or both partners decide to represent themselves during the legal proceedings. During a divorce, a marriage is legally dissolved. Usually, each partner hires a lawyer to help them navigate the court system and divide the joint assets, such as the house, debt, or savings account. If the husband or wife does not have many assets or if he or she wants to save money by not hiring a lawyer, he or she may choose a pro se divorce. Pro se divorce has both benefits and risks, depending on the type of divorce and the person's skills and personality.

During a pro se divorce, parties represent themselves during legal proceedings.
During a pro se divorce, parties represent themselves during legal proceedings.

Pro se divorce may be the best option for a couple who are going through an uncontested divorce, where each partner has decided they want out of the marriage and do not have hard feelings towards the other. Self representation can also be a good idea if there are no children involved. In cases of infidelity or abuse, hiring a lawyer may be the best idea.

Hiring a lawyer often costs a lot of money and the cost builds if the divorce proceedings stretch on for months or years. If a person chooses to represent himself, however, then he is responsible for doing all the things that his lawyer would do, such as filing the divorce papers, arranging to serve the respondent, and filing the notice of hearings for the temporary orders and final hearing. He is also responsible for meeting deadlines and showing up to proceedings on time.

A person should only consider a pro se divorce if he can make the time in his schedule to go to the courthouse to file paperwork or attend hearings. If a person chooses to be represented, his lawyer can attend some hearings and file paperwork without him present. A pro se divorce will only work if a person is able to take the time to study the divorce law in his state or country. If he attempts to represent himself without knowing the laws of the land, he will most likely be unsuccessful in getting what he wants from the proceedings.

During a pro se divorce, it is important that the petitioner keep his emotions separate from the proceedings. Since divorce is a trying time for many people, a person representing himself may find it difficult to keep the way he feels away from the legal aspects of divorce. It is the job of the court to listen to facts and make decisions based on data, not on the way a person feels.

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