Assistance for Pro Se Litigants
It is always best to be represented by a competent attorney in all family law matters. It is especially important in any case where children are involved. In divorces where there is significant property such as real estate, retirement or a business it is not advisable to proceed without an attorney. However, many people simply are not able to afford to hire an attorney to represent them. Some are forced to attempt to proceed without competent legal advice and they choose to represent themselves. When someone does this it is termed “pro se” which means he/she is acting as his/her own attorney. This may sound tempting to some people. People often do not want to spend money on attorney fees. Frequently this is a huge mistake and creates a situation where things are done wrong and then it costs even more to hire an attorney to try to fix what was done wrong by the person acting pro se. Often it is impossible to fix what was done wrong by the person acting pro se. When you think of it, your child’s well being is the most important thing in the world to you. To protect that it is always best to have an attorney to represent you and your child’s interests. If you own a home or have an interest in retirement these are usually the largest assets in any divorce. Having an attorney to represent you in the divorce will allow you to protect your interest in these assets. If your spouse has more income than you or access to community funds that are not readily available to you I can help you file motions with the court to ask the court to order your spouse to provide you with community funds during the time the divorce is pending and even to provide funds for you to pay an attorney. If this is not an option, you can consider using credit cards to pay for an attorney. I accept Master Card, Visa and Discover. Often family members will agree to lend money for an attorney, especially when they know that a child’s welfare is at stake. If at all possible you should find a way to have an attorney represent you in your family law case.
However, if you are in the unfortunate position of having no choice but to be a pro se litigant due to the fact that you simply are not able to find a way to pay an attorney, you should at least consider getting advice from an attorney when preparing your pleadings or considering a settlement offer. I do offer assistance of this kind. Rather than retaining me to represent you in the divorce, you can pay me for time spent assisting you with your pro se paperwork and providing advice to you as to how to proceed on your own. This is especially important to consider doing before you sign off on any settlement agreement or stipulation for entry of a decree or order. Often I can spot problems in the agreement allowing you to correct those things before you sign off on something that is not in your best interest. Assistance of this kind is much less expensive than having an attorney actually represent you in the case. It is money well spent if it helps you avoid some obvious mistakes.