The United States Rules of Civil Procedure allows Pro Se litigation. This means that litigants may proceed with filing their cases and hearing the same without the assistance of counsel. This is true in all civil cases which also include divorce cases.
There are various of reasons why spouses tend to try their cases Pro Se and without the assistance of a retained attorney. These reasons vary from lack of sufficient funds to finance the litigation, if the case is uncontested or when the parties do not have children or marital assets, when the party is dissatisfied with the performance of his or her attorney.
It is not wise to venture into a Pro Se litigation if you are not equipped with legal knowledge and technical procedures. A Pro Se litigant must at least study the laws applicable in divorce cases which may include property law, child custody law, alimony and child support. The Pro Se litigant must also be familiar with his state divorce laws, the current version of the Rules of Civil Procedure, the state’s Family Court Codes.
A Pro Se litigation is initiated by way of filing an Original Petition for Divorce signed by the party. The Petition must be filed before the county where either of the parties reside. In most jurisdictions, in order for a party to be able to file a Divorce Petition, it is required that the party filing the same must have been a resident of said county for 6 months. Otherwise, the Petition may be dismissed for failure to comply with the residency requirement.
A Petition for Divorce must be hand delivered or mailed to the local Court Clerk. The Petition must also be accompanied with two extra copies. A filing fee will be charged upon filing. If the litigant cannot afford the filing fee, the litigant may file an affidavit asking the court to waive said fees. If the affidavit is approved by the judge then the filing fee and other court fees will then be waived.
There are different grounds for filing a Divorce Petition such as infidelity, desertion and physical abuse. After the filing of the petition, the other party will be notified by the court and will be required to file an answer. The case may then be referred by the court to mediation before trial. In the mediation, the parties may settle matters on marital property, division of pension funds and alimony.