If you're thinking about getting a divorce, you may be wondering if it's possible to represent yourself and get a divorce without an attorney's representation. Yes, it is possible; when people represent themselves it's known as pro per.
The people that represent themselves usually do so in order to avoid the costs of hiring an attorney. Such individuals usually have little to no property and no children. Is it recommended? Ask any divorce lawyer and most of them will advise against self-representation.
As a pro per, it's too easy to accidentally make mistakes. It comes down to the old saying, "You don't know what you don't know," and this certainly applies to divorce law. If your spouse decides to go out and hire a divorce attorney, you're not in the position to effectively represent yourself. Your spouse has the upper hand.
What happens more often than not: when one spouse cannot afford to hire an attorney, the judge orders the spouse with more resources to help pay for the other spouse's legal representation.
Pro pers turn to self-help books or the Internet, or even their local library for guidance. They also have to educate themselves on court procedures and requirements.
For example, a pro per needs to be aware of:
- How to prepare and serve disclosure forms.
- Have all agreements put in writing and filed with the court for a judicial officer's signature.
- Follow all rules of evidence, and the legal procedures governing what can be submitted for the court's review and how.
- Ensure all court filings are done in the correct format, and with all specific requirements met.
- Only present admissible evidence.
- Argue relevant issues that the judge can legally consider.
These are just a few examples of what a pro per needs to know and successfully navigate.
While people have handled their own divorces, when you consider the amount of time and effort required in learning California divorce laws and procedures, it makes sense to hire an experienced Los Angeles divorce attorney, who is in the best position to protect your interests in the divorce.