Legal Representation - When
Can You Represent Yourself?
WHEN CAN YOU REPRESENT YOURSELF?
As with most important questions, the answer is: “it depends”.
You may, in fact, be able to represent yourself if you have the
time, energy, and patience to invest the time to do it right. The
long-term security of yourself and your children is at stake, so
it definitely makes sense to be careful and thorough. It also certainly
helps if you and your spouse have reached a full agreement as to
parental responsibilities, child support, division of property
and debts, and maintenance.
If you represent yourself, you will be referred to as “pro
se”. It is important that you remember that you will be held
to the same rigorous standards as an attorney. Thus, you must take
the time to study the relevant statutes and rules, read up on your
rights, and complete all of the documents, including the financial
disclosures, in full.
Unfortunately, many of the most amicable parties end up disputing
one or more of these issues during negotiations. Additionally,
because the law can be very detailed and difficult, together with
the fact that divorce is one of the most stressful events that
can occur in one’s life, you may find it too overwhelming
to handle your own divorce case.
However, because there has been a rise in the number of individuals
pursuing their own divorce actions without counsel, most Colorado
courts sell divorce “packets” of forms, both for parties
with and without children. Some courts even have self-help centers
pro se individuals can utilize. There is also a wealth of information
available on the Internet, including state-approved forms that
can be found at the State
Judicial web site.
In addition to these packets and self-help centers, some Colorado
courts have Family Court Facilitators. A major part of the role
of a Family Court Facilitator is to provide professional, rather
than clerical, assistance to judges in managing the progress of
divorce cases from the time of the initial filing until final orders.
This assistance includes such duties as meeting with parties to
help identify the issues and problems in the case, as well as reviewing
documents to ensure that all requirements of the statutes and rules
have been met. When working with pro se parties, the Family Court
Facilitator will explain court procedures.
Finally, you may want to have your final documents reviewed by
an attorney, especially if there are children involved. This can
provide you with the peace of mind that your financial security
and children’s well being are protected.
Back to Early Planning for Divorce