Couples who are considering filing for divorce may want a simple, less expensive, and less contentious means to divorce. Recently on our divorce forum a user asked, “If my husband and I have no children and few assets is it possible to complete our divorce without the hassle and cost of hiring a divorce lawyer? Is this called pro se divorce?” Couples can file for a pro se divorce (without legal representation), but experts only recommend this strategy if you simply cannot afford a lawyer, you have tried to work with a lawyer and feel you could do it on your own, you have no children, and you have little to no marital assets to divide. If you do decide to file a pro se divorce you will have to follow all the same legal procedures as other couples, including attending all court hearings and filing out all the same legal forms.
Why should most couples avoid a pro se divorce and hire a divorce lawyer?
Unfortunately, if you are divorcing your spouse it generally means the relationship has become difficult, at least difficult enough that you believe you would be happier or more satisfied on your own. Divorce can also be a tough emotional decision, and it may impair your ability to make good financial choices for you or your family. For this reason, experts recommend avoiding a pro se divorce and hiring a lawyer, especially if you have marital property to divide, if you need to negotiate child custody or child support, or if you will be asking for spousal support. Making these decisions without first understanding all of the legal aspects of your decisions could have long-lasting, negative consequences.
How do I get started filing for a pro se divorce?
State laws vary. The first step to filing a pro se divorce is to do a thorough review of your state’s laws, including the current version of your states Rules of Civil Procedure, your states Family Court Codes, and the rules that are followed in your local county court. The internet can make this review much easier than in past years, and many of the laws and procedures can be found online. If the information is not online, you will need to visit your local Court Clerk’s Office or the state law library. Next, if you are the spouse filing for pro se divorce you will be called the Petitioner, which means you will be responsible for filing the Original Petition for Divorcee and serving it to your spouse (the Respondent). State laws will determine how and where the Original Petition for Divorce is filed, the grounds to file your divorce, and how your spouse must be notified. Your state will also have residency requirements which you must meet to file in your state.
How long will the pro se divorce take?
So how long will it take for your pro se divorce to be finalized? It will depend on whether your divorce forms are free of errors, the amount of court cases the court is reviewing on the day you file your case, and your state’s laws. For example, in the state of Texas your divorce must be on file for 60 days before you can finalize it. Other states will have other divorce requirements. Recent Articles: Hidden assets how do I find them?
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