Archive for the 'Pro Se Divorce' Category

A Pro Se Divorce Via Computer

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Many divorcing couples now avail themselves of a software and/or a web-based (on-line) service that helps them complete and prepare divorce papers, forms, and/or documents for filing with the court.

On-line divorce, designed for spouses who are in agreement with one another about an uncontested divorce, is a form of pro se litigation that costs less because they can prepare their paperwork and file for divorce without a lawyer.

An on-line divorce is not designed or sold to replace the services of a lawyer.

Some spouses use on-line divorce but also hire a lawyer to review the documentation before filing it. No matter what, an on-line divorce reduces legal costs.

Many couples using on-line divorce feel comfortable without hiring a lawyer. Since all issues regarding property, debt, alimony/spousal support, custody, child support, and visitation are settled, so legal advice is not required. On-line companies can direct a party in the right direction, but legal help is rarely, if ever, included.

One of the most attractive features on an on-line divorce is the ease of paperwork preparation.

Care must be taken, however. The buyer must beware and choose a reputable company with a history. In recent years, there have been several start-ups that provide very generic, non-state specific forms with little or no support and no filing instructions. Some on-line divorce companies provide an on-line solution that instantly delivers the completed forms by utilizing a web-based software application; thus the papers are available immediately for printing when an on-line questionnaire has been completed. This type of on-line divorce gives a couple the most control over their divorce, and it is recognized as the fastest way to complete the paperwork.

Other more primitive on-line divorce companies collect customer information through the Internet, process the papers in-house, and then mail them to the customer. This is a more or less a traditional method of providing a divorce service, just without the office visits.

Make a New Friend When You Divorce

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Czar Peter the Great once said, “I don’t rule Russia. Ten thousand clerks rule Russia!” Well, in a divorce one clerk can make a great difference — the clerk of the court.

The clerk of the court is responsible for keeping court records and procedures in order. A person filing for divorce pro se or a divorce lawyer files divorce paperwork with the clerk of the courts in the 50 jurisdictions.

For the pro se filer in particular, the clerk of the court, who may be called the court assistant, district clerk or chancery clerk, is a man or woman who should become a new best friend.

The phase “divorce paperwork” includes a myriad of forms and papers that must filed in every divorce action, even the simplest uncontested default divorce cases. Starting with the complaint and summons and through the final divorce decree, the clerk of the court is the man or woman who keeps track that all the protocols and procedures have been followed.

The clerk will be involved right from the start. He or she is the person who gives the divorce a case number that stays with the action from start to finish.

The clerk moves each divorce through the formalities of the family court. In conjunction with the judge, the clerk will see that all paperwork filed in each case is prepared, organized, and presented properly for review. In all jurisdictions, the clerk is prohibited from answering legal questions, but many clerks can be most helpful in dealing with filing procedures.

The complexities of filing often bewilder pro se filers, but the clerk is the last person a pro se filer wants to cross.

When the Spouses Agree, an “Easy” Road Out

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

If you and your spouse can come to a meeting of the minds about the terms and conditions of your divorce, you may want to consider a pro se divorce. Pro se means “for yourself.” In a pro se divorce, each of you represents himself or herself in court, and sometimes, depending upon the jurisdiction, it is not even necessary for both of you to even appear.

When you can make it work, pro se divorce cuts the cost of a divorce because it eliminates, or at least dramatically reduces, the involvement of lawyers, who are a considerable cost in adversarial legal actions.

All states permit pro se filing. Some states have websites offering all the forms needed for a simple or simplified divorce action where one or both parties does the filing normally done by a lawyer. Many states now permit summary divorce actions, where both you and your spouse file as copetitioners, or a default divorce, where one of you files and the other spouse does not respond. When both of you are in agreement about everything, you file for an uncontested divorce, and rest of the action moves administratively through the court system.

Pro se lawyering particularly appeals to young couples ending a short-term marriage with no children, both spouses working, and easily distributed assets and debts.

A few caveats are in order. Pro se filing does not work in divorces where one of you wants to punish the other for the failure of the marriage. Pro se lawyering should not even be considered if one of you has retained a lawyer, or the divorce is contested, or the two of you cannot even sit down at the same table to talk about ending the marriage. Pro se filing does not work if one of you wants to use litigation as a way of punishing the other. But it can work very well in cases where both of you agree that neither of you is at fault, that neither of you will contest the action, and that revenge and selfishness benefit neither of you.

Because it costs less, both of you end of with more money, which you will need when you start anew as single people. Pro se divorce can work for you if you and your spouse can unmake your marriage and each go your own way, if not as friends, then at least not as enemies.

Asking the Family Court Clerks for Help

Thursday, April 20th, 2006

We hear many stories of divorcing spouses, especially pro se filers, getting discouraged when they ask a question at the county courthouse and the clerk or the clerk’s assistance reply, “sorry, but we can not give out legal advice”. Yes, many of the questions asked do not require any sort of advice at all, but for liability reasons the clerk and assistants are instructed to provide limited help, if any at all.

If you have a question regarding your divorce and the process, we suggest asking them to point you in the right direction. In doing so, you are not actually asking them for an answer, but rather asking them where you may be able to go to research the answer.

Also, keep in mind that the county courthouse has a legal library which is open to the public. This library may contain sample divorce documents, filing instructions, or explanations. A library assistant on staff may become your best friend.

As a reminder, you never want to express anger or argue with the clerk. He or she will be facilitating your divorce from start to finish, so this would not be a relationship you want to sever.

Doing Your Own Divorce

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

It has become very popular over the last few years for spouses to actually do their own divorce without a lawyer. Doing your own divorce will save you money just as long as you take the appropriate steps throughout out the divorce procedure.

It is advised that you get a general understanding, prior to taking on this task. Thousands of divorces are filed every year without a lawyer and most of these divorces are uncontested. This means that you and your spouse mutually agree on the issues that will dissolve your marriage.

If you do decide to divorce on your own, make sure the paperwork you are filing is state specific and make sure you meet the residency requirements for where you wish to divorce.