Over the past decade or so, one of the more common scenarios that have emerged in family courts across the country is where one or both spouses who are going through the divorce process make the decision to represent themselves instead of hiring an attorney. This is referred to as a pro se divorce.
Those who decide to “go it alone” instead if with the guidance of an experienced divorce attorney at the helm may do so for several reasons, including:
- They anticipate the divorce will be an easy one to settle since both spouses agree not only to ending the marriage but also how parental responsibilities, parenting time, property division, etc., should be divided; or
- They feel the fees an attorney will charge will be too expensive, especially since they anticipate a “friendly” divorce.
However, many people who have gone through a pro se divorce often find that the experience to be an overwhelming one. Just the process of filing or responding to a divorce petition can be confusing. In addition, it is critical in each step of the divorce that all required legalities are addressed. The Illinois family court system has many rules and regulations which must be adhered to, and failure to follow instructions specifically can result in losing parental rights and/or parenting time or receiving a reduced share of the marital assets and property.
When it comes to filing and presenting petitions and motions, the correct documentation must be included, as well as making sure all deadlines are met in these filings. Failure to do either can result in the judge dismissing or rejecting your motion.
It is also important to remember that divorce judges do not grant any leeway to people who make the decision to represent themselves. They are held to the same standards as any family law attorney would be. They are required to follow the same rules of evidence as divorce lawyers are, as well as to be aware of the proper way to deliver opening and closing statements to the court and how to examine any witnesses they have or cross-examine any witnesses the other spouse’s side presents.
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Although it may seem like a good idea to handle your own divorce, it is important to your future and your children’s future to explore all options before making the final decision. If you are considering filing pro se, first contact an experienced Orland Park divorce attorney to find out what all your legal options may be. Your initial consultation at our firm is free; call 708-518-8200 today.