Filing Pro Se
If a litigant proceeds without legal counsel, it is referred to as proceeding “pro se.” This is Latin for “on one’s own behalf” or “for oneself.”
Pro se divorce proceedings are becoming increasingly common in Pennsylvania and all across the nation because it allows spouses how have no areas of major disagreement to amicably file for divorce at a minimal cost. However, it is wise for any person seeking a divorce to speak with an experienced divorce attorney if there are any issues that are in dispute or just to be sure that nothing is being overlooked which could cause bigger problems later on.
West Chester Filing Pro Se Information Center
- What are the advantages of filing without legal representation?
- Are there disadvantages to not having an attorney when filing for divorce?
- What else should I consider before filing without legal counsel?
The main benefit and primary reason that most people opt to proceed pro se is to forgo the cost of hiring a lawyer. Money can indeed be saved for couples seeking a quicker settlement with no conflicts, provided that both parties cooperate in their commitment.
Another reason that people choose to represent themselves in divorce proceedings is for a greater sense of control over the process. Some spouses simply believe that they will have a better chance of getting what they want because they think they know the facts of their cases better than anybody else.
Even if you are not expecting any adversity in your divorce proceedings, here are a few of the possible ramifications of trying to handle your divorce without legal representation:
- Stress and Negative Emotions — There are a multitude of issues at play in a divorce and an assortment of important deadlines. Most people who are unfamiliar with divorce proceedings can become quickly overwhelmed with court rules and procedures. Additionally, critical decisions may be overlooked if a person places too much emphasis on emotionally-charged issues.
- Concerns, Issues Unaddressed — Without any experience in the divorce process, the average person can find it difficult at times to have their voice heard. An attorney can give you the best chance of making sure that the issues that are most important to you are given their due time.
- Case May Be Rejected — Divorce involves complex paperwork that can dramatically slow down court proceedings when improperly completed. A Pennsylvania divorce lawyer will be extremely familiar with this paperwork and how it needs to be completed, reducing the likelihood of any problems and accelerating the speed of the process.
- Inadequate Settlement Agreement — In a rush to conclude his or her case, a person may settle finances or other issues much too quickly. By settling too soon, you could inadvertently lock yourself into an agreement you later learn was grossly unfair.
- Long-Term Consequences — When you file divorce pro se, the result is just as legally binding as it would be had a lawyer handled your case. If you made any errors or oversights, it will be extremely difficult to undo them. When these mistakes concern child support, retirement benefits, or taxes relating to property, the costs can be astronomical.
It is completely understandable for people to want to pursue the divorce filing that will cost them the least amount of money. Tough economic times often make it difficult for everyday people to have the financial wherewithal to afford an attorney retainer.
However, any divorce filing needs to take into account the entire lifetime of costs that will be accumulated by both spouses. There are several hugely important decisions made during a divorce that will have financial impacts later on.
In this sense, the amount that you invest now in legal representation could prove to be a mere fraction of what you could have to spend because of unintended consequences of attempting to file divorce by representing yourself. While pro se divorce can indeed prove to be an attractive alternative for some people who have cases free of complications and disputes, a significant majority of those with divorce matters are far better served to have legal counsel making sure that everything is handled correctly the first time.
Finding A Divorce Lawyer in West Chester
If you are preparing for a divorce in Pennsylvania, it is in your best interest to seek legal representation. Ciccarelli Law Offices provides legal services at reasonable fees, and we work with clients by providing alternate forms of payment.
Our firm can discuss our fees and evaluate your case during a free consultation when you call (877) 529-2422. We represent clients in clients Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Lancaster County as well as Philadelphia.