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Pro Se Divorce – Representing Yourself

Publish Date: 08/08/2015

Those going through a divorce are often thinking about ways to cut back on spending, and this may include considering representing themselves in their divorce action. In fact, divorce attorneys are often asked whether it is necessary to hire them – and the short answer is no. In Georgia, you have the right to represent yourself in any legal action, including a divorce. When you represent yourself you are called a “pro se litigant.” But you should seriously consider whether this is the best path for you.

First, while some Judges cut pro se litigants some slack, others expect you to know all of the court’s rules. Judges are not allowed to give you advice so you will be completely on your own here. Fulton County has a Family Law Information Center (“FLIC”) that is set up to help pro se litigants navigate their case but, like the Judges and their staff, the staff at the FLIC cannot give you legal advice. They can, however, schedule a free 30-minute consultation with an attorney, which, for some people going through a simple divorce, may be all you need to get on the right track.

Further, if your spouse has hired an attorney and you have not, you may be at a disadvantage. Presumably, this attorney will be very familiar with the court’s rules and laws relevant to your case and this can be confusing for someone who is not an attorney. You certainly don’t want to be taken advantage of.

In addition, an experienced family law attorney may have a great deal of knowledge about the particular Judge assigned to your case and how to best handle sensitive issues, such as adultery, in front of that Judge. This could ultimately save you some money in your divorce settlement, even if you have to pay up front for the attorney’s time.

Overall, while hiring an attorney will certainly cost you some money, it will likely be beneficial to you in the end. A seasoned family law attorney will know the court’s rules and will likely be able to finalize your divorce more quickly than you will on your own. Even if you cannot afford to retain an attorney for the full length of your divorce case, it will likely be helpful to pay for a consultation where an attorney can review your documents and help guide you in the right direction.


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