Today, many marriages are ending in divorce. However, not all of these couples are ready or willing to pay large attorney fees or feel that it is necessary to have their battles displayed in a courtroom. Many couples feel that they may divorce amicably and feel that they can agree upon the terms of their divorce amongst themselves. These couples may choose to initiate a Pro Se Divorce, which means that they will represent themselves and not have an attorney.
Most people feel that there are both pros and cons to representing yourself throughout a divorce. First, one of the benefits may be that if you and your spouse can agree on the terms of your divorce, and have a clear understanding of the legal forms required to petition the court, you may be able to have your divorce finalized very quickly, as well as inexpensively. The negatives are simple to understand. There is a very good chance that you may make a drastic mistake since you are not a qualified attorney.
If you are considering filing Pro Se because you fear that you cannot afford an attorney, then you may want to consider choosing legal aid. Based upon your income, you may qualify for services. If however, you find that you don’t qualify for services you can always schedule a free consultation with an attorney. The consultation is a great time to discuss your case and determine if they could help you. Some attorneys even offer a flat rate for their services. If after meeting with the attorney, you still feel confident in representing yourself then you should.
You may want to take advantage of the Texas State Law Library and conduct as much research as possible. You can also download the forms that you need for free.
If you do need to appear in court, it will be expected of you to know how to act civilly. You should always dress appropriately. Women should wear a loose fitting dress, skirt, or pants, with conservative and modest hemlines. Men should wear suits, jackets, and ties or a shirt with a collar.
Using proper etiquette will help you prove your case more effectively. This includes speaking clearly and not interrupting your spouse or the judge. Never chew gum in court, and refer to the judge as “Your Honor.”
You will need to be prepared to discuss Community Property, Child Support, Custody and Visitation arrangements. The first step that you will need to take is to file the petition for divorce. There are legal requirements that must be met before you file a petition for divorce. First, you and your spouse must have lived in Texas for at least six months. You will also need to file the petition in the county where you have lived for the past ninety days. You will also need to choose the grounds for divorce. Since Texas is a “No Fault” state, it may be simplest to file No Fault. You will need two extra copies of the Petition for Divorce.
You will file the original with the Clerk of the Circuit court and then you will send one of the copies to the respondent. After you have paid the appropriate fee and have filed the petition, you will receive a case number. You will then need to notify your spouse of the proceedings according to the terms of the law, and follow all procedures set forth in the divorce process. Even though you are representing yourself, you will still be subject to the 60-day waiting period before your divorce can become final.