How to Represent Yourself in Divorce Court
No one gets married thinking that it will end in divorce. The hardest part in this process is to find an attorney and then, paying his fees. Though it is best to have an attorney to represent you, you can also stand for yourself. Here are some facts that will help you out to represent yourself in divorce court.
Representing yourself or ‘Pro se’ in the court can feel like traveling to a different country. Courtroom environment has the unfamiliar aura. Court has unique rules, laws and systems. This is the reason that people who represent themselves in divorce cases, don’t always get what they want from the court. That’s why before starting your own divorce case, you should gather enough information and study the courtroom’s system carefully.
Organize the Case
Do some basic online research about your situation. Check sites like DivorceNet.com which have state by state resources, including articles written for non-lawyers about Divorce and Family Law topics. Proof is necessary while organizing your case. It is not enough to simply state your facts. Proof can include evidence that you should bring along with documentation.
For example, in the case of child support, you would bring proof of income and expenses - tax returns and W-2 forms, 1099's, pay stubs, bills, receipts, and so on. When gathering proof, think about what you are trying to get.
How to Represent Yourself in Divorce Court - Tips
- Formulate a basic outline - one page of the major points you want to tell the judge, plus what you want the judge to do.
- Gather important documents and make copies. Bring at least one set of copies with you.
- Ask for help at the courthouse if you want assistance filing your petition. Many courthouses have offices for 'self-represented' petitioners staffed by clerks who can assist you. Make sure to understand your state's rules to serve the summons.
- Appear for your court date on time and dress properly. Let the Court officer know that you are there.
- Address the judge politely and wait to converse until it is your turn.
- State your case simply and clearly, using your copy of outline if needed. You need not try to sound like a lawyer. In that case you can think about mediation if available and appropriate.
- Be sure to obtain an accurate court order.
- Court clerks do not provide legal advice but they may help you with procedural matters.
- Preparing your case gives you good results. Having your papers in order and a brief outline with you can give you self-confidence.
- Ask the clerk about the court fees that you have to pay. If you can't pay for an attorney but would like to have one, ask the court if they provide 'assigned counsel' for those who can't afford a lawyer. In that case, be prepared to show proof of your need.
- Check whether your final order is correct. Bring any errors into the final order to the Court clerk's attention as soon as they are discovered.
Keep all the important points in your mind. Stay stable and confident during the hearing and successfully represent yourself in divorce court.
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