| DIVORCE FAQ #19
19. Can I handle my own divorce without a lawyer?
Yes. Many people handle their own divorces without formal attorney representation. The term for
someone who represents himself or herself in a legal matter is in propria persona, more commonly
known as pro per.
When someone chooses this option, it is usually to avoid the cost of hiring an attorney. Still, many
people do handle their own divorces successfully, particularly when they have very little property and
no children. But be aware that, as a pro per, you could accidentally make expensive mistakes. And if
your spouse has an attorney, it may be even more difficult for you to effectively represent yourself.
If you are considering self-representation simply because you cannot afford an attorney, a judge may
order your spouse-if he or she has more resources than you-to help pay for your legal
representation. Or, if you have very little income, you might qualify for free or cut-rate assistance (see
As a pro per, you may use the services of a consulting attorney or a mediator, or you may handle
your divorce entirely on your own. For assistance, you might turn to self-help books, the Internet or a
family law facilitator (if one is available at your local court). In addition, the librarian at your local
county law library may be able to guide you to the appropriate resources and forms for your particular
issues. You will need to educate yourself about the court requirements. For example, be aware that
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