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For some couples, marriage does not work out, hence a divorce. The Supreme Court of Florida and Florida Family Law allows individuals to represent themselves in court and have provided packets to assist them. These packets have the general information that the couple would need. When you go alone in court for a divorce proceeding, it is called pro se divorce. If you wish to go through a divorce in Florida, bear in mind that you must be a resident for six months before the divorce petition.
You can purchase the self-help packets in the Supreme Court of Florida at the Cashiering station. If unable to pay, let them know to enroll you as an indigent and give you a payment plan.
If you are looking for help with your dissolution of marriage or processing your divorce, Stewart Hudson can help you. We have been helping clients for Pro Se Divorce in the following counties in northwest Florida:
Pro Se Divorce means you will be representing yourself in court – no lawyer will do it for you. However, there is a filing process with specific guidelines and procedures. Call or email today to book an appointment if you need help with the pro se divorce filing preparation, forms, and other methods.
One of the advantages of representing oneself in the Florida divorce procedure is there are no attorney fees. The overall costs are significantly lower without costly hourly fees for legal representation.
Furthermore, you can hire an attorney for partial representation, meaning that you agree on issues they will represent you while dealing with the rest of the case on your own.
Besides, an attorney can help with legal advice. You can consult with a lawyer on how to fill out forms and conduct them in court. They can also review the documents you prepared yourself.
Finally, self-representing contributes to the simplicity of the process. The spouses usually do not engage in strategies aimed at purposeful dragging the case. That results in a time-effective and cost-friendly divorce.
Although self-representation provides numerous benefits in terms of costs and time-effectiveness, there are also disadvantages connected to going to court alone.
Navigating through the court process without professional assistance is a challenging task. Procedural rules are complex. Dealing with forms and deadlines requires legal training. For that reason, self-representation can prove to be a wrong decision in contested divorce cases.
If only one spouse hired an attorney, the court does not provide legal assistance or advice to the self-representing party. They are on their own. Therefore, it is vital to understand the consequences of entering litigation without professional help. Your chances for success diminish if you decide to go to court pro se.
Apart from the technical disadvantages of self-representation, do not forget that dealing with emotional divorce-related issues on your own can pose a significant setback. An attorney representing the client approaches the case unbiasedly and objectively. On the other hand, acting pro se on sensitive personal issues can negatively affect your perception of facts and divert your attention from legally relevant issues. A pro se spouse often uses inappropriate language instead of dealing with factual information and legal terminology. Unprofessional conduct in court compromises your prospects for a positive outcome.
Under Chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes, divorcing spouses can represent themselves in court proceedings.
However, there is a clear tendency to mediate uncontested divorce cases. When spouses agree on alimony, child custody, child support, and division of property, they are more likely to entrust their divorce to a neutral mediator than to go to court. The statistics show that 95% of couples choose mediation over litigation in uncontested separations.
The mediation process starts when couples choose the mediator by signing an agreement to mediate. The parties and the mediator agree to keep confidential everything shared during sessions. That includes the potential litigation in case of unsuccessful mediation, meaning that they cannot reveal in court information disclosed in mediation.
The mediation process consists of several stages. The mediator first presents their credentials while the spouses give initial remarks regarding the case. The parties then move to separate rooms for private talks with the mediator. Hearing their stories, the mediator goes back and forth between the session rooms, keeping secret everything discussed with each party. After private sessions (caucuses), the parties gather in joint sessions to discuss the matter openly. The mediator facilitates the negotiations, motivating the spouses to settle.
If successful, mediation ends in a Marital Settlement Agreement signed by both spouses. The agreement deals with alimony, child support, and marital assets division.
As an out-of-court method, mediation proves to be a far more time-effective and cost-friendly option for self-representing divorcing couples. It takes approximately three mediation sessions to settle an uncontested divorce case.
Aside from cost and time-related advantages, mediation offers another benefit that litigation lacks. An experienced mediator will help spouses end their marriage in a peaceful and friendly atmosphere, enabling genuine reconciliation and a positive post-divorce co-parenting relationship.
Stewart Hudson is a Florida Supreme Court certified family mediator with years of experience dealing with different divorce cases.
If you seek a peaceful dissolution of marriage in a timely and cost-effective manner, do not hesitate to contact us today to discuss how we can help.