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Pro Se Divorce: Should You Divorce Without a Lawyer?

Posted on in Divorce

Lombard divorce lawyerOver the past decade or so, one of the more common scenarios that have emerged in family courts across the country is where one or both spouses who are going through the divorce process make the decision to represent themselves instead of hiring an attorney. This is known as a pro se divorce.

Going Through It on Your Own

Couples who decide for forgo the guidance of an experienced divorce attorney may do so for a number of reasons, including:

  • They anticipate that the divorce will be easy to settle since both spouses agree not only to ending the marriage but also how parental responsibilities, parenting time, property division, etc., should be divided;
  • They feel the fees an attorney will charge will be too expensive, especially since they anticipate a “friendly” divorce; or
  • They believe that they can find the resources regarding the law and the divorce process online.

However, many people who have gone through a pro se divorce often find that the experience to be an overwhelming one. Even the process of filing or responding to a divorce petition can be confusing to the uninitiated. Additionally, it is critical in each step of the divorce that all required legalities are addressed. The Illinois family court system is governed by many rules and regulations, and failure to follow instructions specifically can result in compromised parental rights and/or parenting time or a reduced shared of your marital property.

A skilled lawyer can also assist with filing and presenting petitions and motions, as the correct documentation must be included and strict deadlines must be met. Failure to do either can result in the judge dismissing or rejecting your motion.

Surprises May Lie Ahead

You should also keep in mind that family court judges do not give leeway to individuals to decide to represent themselves in a divorce. The law applies to everyone equally and a pro se party is held to the same standards as any family law attorney would be. He or she is required to follow the same rules of evidence as divorce lawyers are and to be aware of proper courtroom procedures and etiquette.

While it may seem like a financially responsible good idea to handle your own divorce, it is important to carefully weigh the risks before you make any decisions. Your future and that of your children may depend on it. If you are considering filing pro se, speak with an experienced Lombard divorce lawyer first. We will help you analyze your situation and show you the difference a skilled attorney can make.  

 

Sources:

http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/supremecourt/evidence/evidence.htm

http://www.cookcountycourt.org/ABOUTTHECOURT/CountyDepartment/DomesticRelationsDivision/ForPeopleWithoutLawyers/FilingandAnsweringaDivorcePetition.aspx


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