A pro se dissolution of marriage in Florida means that the person represents themselves in court and also waives their right to hire an attorney later. Some people use such a strategy because they can't afford the cost of hiring a lawyer. However, the divorcee could have a very difficult time handling all the legal work themselves.
What Exactly Is a Pro Se Divorce in Florida?
When a person uses the pro se dissolution of marriage, that means a spouse decides to represent themselves in court alone instead of hiring legal assistance. The entire process of the dissolution of marriage is the same, but the person is personally responsible for filing and completing the right forms themselves.
When to Go Pro Se
Most people choose to go pro se because they want to avoid the cost of hiring an attorney. In some cases, though, a person hires an attorney and fires them because they feel that they're going to do better on their own. Regardless of the reason, no one has to talk to attorneys or hire one before getting a dissolution of marriage. Just remember that if the choice to obtain a lawyer is not taken, it's impossible to obtain one later. Focus on every factor within the settlement agreement and research online before making a final decision.
If the marriage is irretrievably broken, there is no fault, and it is uncontested, it's likely realistic for one or both parties to represent themselves. The best situation for a pro se dissolution of marriage is one that involves a short-term marriage, a simplified dissolution, and one without children. Remember, the division of property is also required, so it's best if the debts and assets can be distributed easily. With an uncontested or simplified dissolution in family law, it means that both parties involved agree to the terms set forth in the divorce. These terms can include:
Division of property and debt
Child custody and visitation
Other issues relating to a marriage
If both parties are still amicable and get along with each other, it might be possible to obtain a settlement agreement and go through it all without legal assistance, a hearing, or trial.
Before representing oneself in a dissolution of marriage, it's important to focus on the advantages and disadvantages. Neither spouse in Florida has to deal with legal fees. If each spouse can agree on the terms for the dissolution of marriage, it saves a lot of money for attorney fees.
Typically, a lawyer charges by the hour. If the petition is extensive or there's a child involved, the price can be extremely high. However, the charges also vary based on the attorney chosen and how involved the attorney is with the case.
If a spouse decides to use an attorney for full representation, they handle everything with the court system in Florida.
There's partial representation, which means the attorney only handles agreed-upon issues and offers legal advice about child support, a parenting plan, and other family law matters.
It's also possible to hire an attorney for a consultation. This lets them review and prepare documents and give legal advice when necessary. However, the attorney doesn't represent the spouse in court.
Those who may want to represent themselves can avoid legal strategies that drag out the process on purpose. Generally, there isn't a legal strategy when self-representing. The process is often less complicated and quicker, but that isn't always the case. A marital settlement agreement is created, as well as a parenting plan. This includes any child support and requires a variety of forms to be filled out.
However, both parties have to behave calmly and rationally for a simplified dissolution of marriage to work. Direct communication is necessary, and this may be easier to handle through an attorney in Florida.
While a pro se dissolution of marriage is going to save one spouse a lot of money, there are many disadvantages.
Family law forms are often hard to understand, and the court procedures are confusing. If a spouse represents themselves, they've got to understand the court process and the law. They aren't going to be exempt from something just because they didn't know which forms to file or they filled out the forms wrong.
It's often impossible to obtain help because no lawyer in Florida is going to want to be involved. It's easy to be confused and not know what to do, especially when dealing with things like child support, the parenting plan, spouse support, and everything else.
Another disadvantage is that if the spouse doesn't hire a lawyer, they are completely on their own. They can't obtain help from the court, and the other party's lawyer isn't going to be of service. If it's impossible for the person to organize and develop the right litigation plan, no one else is going to help. Therefore, preparation is essential.
The Florida court system doesn't like to act on impulse, so if the party in question does this often, pro se dissolution of marriage isn't suitable. When self-representing, there's no one to stand between the bad decisions or things that are said. It's easy to be full of emotions, but this doesn't help your case with the Florida court system. Experienced lawyers are unbiased and keep a level head to stick with the plan, so looking into a collaborative divorce may be beneficial. This is going to help the children involved and both parties at the hearing or trial.
Common Mistakes When Going Pro Se
Painful divorces can bring out the bad in people. Therefore, it's best not to self-represent in court if the party is prone to acting on impulse or out of vengeance. The court system isn't there to punish a former spouse, and divorces aren't the way to be vindicated on morals. It's best to hire an attorney if it's impossible to keep legalities and emotional factors separate while in the courtroom.
The grounds for a dissolution of marriage should only include appropriate information, which doesn't often require emotions. The court is interested in the legality of the matter. The petition shouldn't include inflammatory or inappropriate details or language on any of the family law forms. It's best to think like a lawyer and behave like they do.
For example, if one of the parties drinks too much or cheats, the petition should not say that the person wants to obtain a dissolution of marriage the husband (or wife) is a cheater and a drunk. Only include facts on the forms and leave out emotions. On the petition, it should say that the petitioner requests a dissolution of marriage because the respondent committed adultery acts and abuses alcohol. This can help the court and give the pro se person the support they need
Tips for Self-Representation
In Florida, no one has to hire a lawyer for a dissolution of marriage. However, all of the forms have to be included and completed correctly. This consists of the marital settlement agreement and information about the child. These forms can be received from the courthouse. It's also essential to petition the court correctly. That may require the petitioner to fill out a petition claiming that they want to get divorced and why.
If someone wants to self-represent during the dissolution of marriage, it's important to understand the process of the hearing or trial. However, a simplified dissolution of marriage still requires the right forms to be provided. These documents include alimony information, child custody, and support information, and much more. Once the decision to self-represent has been made, it must hold for the entire proceedings to the final hearing. No one may help later.
However, many courthouses have the forms required for alimony, child custody, and the like. It's possible to ask questions and seek help for some aspects. However, the petitioner must do everything by themselves. The petition is just the first step. From there, other documents must be filed.
Consider going to the local courthouse to view the law library. It's possible to go to the state law library website, and many courthouses also have a website. This allows the person to search for documents that may help with the petition. Free advice from lawyer clinics or online is also possible. However, this information may limit the person as to how long they can talk to a lawyer later
Either party has the right to petition and go through the process themselves. It takes a lot of time, and the judge ultimately has the final say. Even if a child is involved or alimony is wanted, the judge must have the right documents to make a decision. This includes information about property and many other things.
If a child is involved or is the product of the marriage, it might be better to work with a St. Petersburg divorce attorney. Once it's decided to go pro se by one or both parties, that decision is final. The person cannot seek help with the petition agreement and must still provide the right documents for alimony, property division, and much more.
The trial is going to take time, and the person who does it themselves needs the right documents for their child custody battle, alimony, and much more. In fact, it's often more difficult if a child is part of the situation. Ultimately, it's up to each party to decide how to handle the petition and everything else.