Filing for divorce can be a complicated process. It can become even more complicated with confusing legalese or unfamiliar Latin terms such as “pro se”. It’s not only important to know what filing for divorce pro se means, but you must also understand the pros and cons of taking this approach. Pro se translates to “for oneself”. This means that you plan on filing for divorce without the assistance or representation of an attorney. You’ll be filing for a divorce yourself as well as representing yourself throughout the divorce proceedings. In theory, this can sound like a rather simple process. However, handling a divorce from beginning to end without the help of an attorney can be much more complex than you think. There are both advantages and disadvantages to filing for divorce pro se. Here are five things you need to know about this process.

 

  1. Save Money

It’s no surprise that saving money is the first thing that comes to mind when people consider filing for a divorce pro se. A do-it-yourself divorce ranges from $500-$1,500 depending on the documents you need and how you file. There’s a lot of different elements that determine the cost of a divorce. It can depend on the intricacies of the case, if the couple is coming to an agreement, or the number of assets they share. With the help of a lawyer, complex divorce cases that go to trial can cost anywhere from $20,000-$200,000. Your first instinct may be to attempt a divorce process alone to avoid losing that much cash. However, sometimes the disadvantages of going at a divorce alone will greatly outweigh how much you can save.

 

  1. Potentially Ease Tensions

Even though attorneys are there to assist people through the toughest times of their lives, people often become nervous when they get involved. If both parties are in agreement on the terms of the divorce, filing for divorce pro se can make sense. Involving a lawyer could potentially create tension. There’s no reason to make the process more stressful than it needs to be. However, when tensions are already high and both parties are having a difficult time communicating, filing for divorce pro se is not recommended.

 

  1. Time Consuming

There’s a reason why attorneys are paid well to practice law and file for a divorce on your behalf. It’s because a divorce can be very confusing and it takes a lot of time to complete the required documents. Unfortunately, a divorce is not as easy as filling out a form online and then just waiting for it to end. It’s incredibly time consuming and very difficult. Filing for divorce pro se is an exhausting process that will take up much of your time for weeks to possibly months.

 

  1. Inexperience Leads to Complications

If you don’t have a legal background, filing for divorce pro se can be a very complex procedure. Filing the documents wrong or not meeting court-ordered deadlines can create more problems for you  in the future. Attorneys understand how to present the information and defend their clients in the appropriate way. Poor self-representation will not only be a problem for you, but it can also become a hardship on the courts. Overall, it’s not a good idea to represent yourself if you have no experience in litigation.

 

  1. Emotionally Taxing

It’s obvious that a divorce in and of itself is an emotionally taxing process. For most people, it’s difficult to keep up with their normal tasks. If children are involved, it can be even more overwhelming. Being on time for work, showing up to soccer games, or being present for important meetings can be stressful during times of divorce. This is one of the reasons why people pay attorneys to handle divorces for them. Normally, a divorce means moving, reassessing assets and finances, or even deciphering custody terms. Transitions like this can be traumatic for many couples and families. Filing for divorce pro se adds an immense amount of pressure onto an already existing dilemma. It’s important to keep this in mind if you’re considering representing yourself.

If You’re Considering Filing For Divorce Pro Se

There are many factors that go into a decision to represent yourself during a divorce. There are clear advantages and disadvantages. Saving money is important and avoiding tensions by involving lawyers can make sense in some cases. However, not everyone has the luxury of an easy separation. There are a lot more complexities to a divorce than most people can imagine. Lack of experience or emotionally taxing obligations can take its toll on you and your family. If you’re considering filing for a divorce pro se, it’s recommended to speak with a divorce attorney first to know if it’s the right path for you.

 

By: Tina Lewert

Attorney Tina L. Lewert is an experienced Florida Board Certified Marital and Family Law Specialist who works with clients to resolve family law issues including child custody, visitation, and parenting issues, and child support, alimony, and marital agreements. Ms. Lewert earned her undergraduate degree at Florida Atlantic University and her J.D. from the Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center in Fort Lauderdale.