As you know, you have every right to represent yourself in any court of law, including Family Court, where divorces are typically filed. What some forget or don’t even realize at the outset, however, is that if you choose to represent yourself, the Court expects you to follow the same court rules and procedures that an attorney follows. In other words, the court expects you to know what you’re doing. The court clerk will not tell you what must be filed and when. You’re on your own.
It’s a question that plagues many potential pro se (filing a legal matter on one’s own behalf) divorce litigants – should I file my own divorce? It sounds enticing and sounds like you could save money. After all, divorce forms can be obtained from the court and the Internet has many offers from typing services who type up divorce documents for a fee. And they make it sound easy.
As you contemplate handling your own divorce, keep the following in mind:
1) If you are contemplating filing your own divorce, it’s most likely because you think you will save money. In fact, what often occurs instead, is expensive post-divorce litigation and motions which end up costing you more money than if you had retained an attorney in the first place. It is a known fact that because of bad drafting of the language in the final decree of divorce, many people end up coming back to court to fix things.
2) You might decide to file on your own and then retain an attorney only if you run into problems. This never saves you money. In fact, attorneys typically charge either the same to take over an in-progress case as if handling the case from the beginning, or charge more because it’s often more work to review everything and fix what’s wrong than to do it right from the beginning.
3) You are only doing your divorce once whereas an experienced attorney has done divorces hundreds of times. Understanding “legalese” language, anticipating problems and taking care of them before they occur as well as making sure your rights and obligations are safeguarded can better be done by an objective professional than by you caught in the midst of an emotionally-charged situation.
4) Understanding civil procedure, local rules of the court, and rules of evidence are difficult and the Judges are not allowed to give any slack to people representing themselves. Also, the law clerks and court clerks are prohibited from giving legal advice which makes it difficult for someone representing themselves, not trained in the law, to process a case from start to finish without encountering obstacles along the way.
5) You can buy your divorce forms online, however, because those are generally prepared by document-typing companies who don’t keep up with local laws that closely, they are often rejected by the court. Once you finally have the completed documents in hand, there is still the court process to contend with. If the documents were improperly prepared, the court will reject them and mail them back to you. You could be going along thinking that all is fine and weeks later get a fat envelope from the court containing all of your rejected documents. And you have to start all over. Sure, the company will fix the documents if they are rejected, but you are the one who has to handle all the logistics of that and the one who has to return to court to file them again, the one who has to wait again to see if the new documents will be accepted or rejected.
Do you have the kind of time and patience to deal with the above when filing your own divorce? Are you able to take the time off work to deal with it properly? If you answered “no,” to even just one of these questions, you really need to re-consider whether filing on your own is the right solution for you.
- How much time do you estimate filing your own divorce will take you?
- How much do you make per hour now?
If you have never filed a divorce before, have never dealt with Family Court and know nothing about it, it is estimated that you will spend approximately 40 hours handling the entire process, provided there are no errors made and you only need to go to the courthouse once to file your documents. If you have to go back to court because of errors in the final Decree of Divorce, there is no telling how much more time you will have to spend on fixing these errors.
Only you can answer the question “is it worth filing my divorce on my own?”
If you have questions about obtaining a Nevada divorce you can contact us.
Author: Attorney James E. Smith — http://nevadadivorce.org/about