An article recently appeared on the growth of divorces filed without an attorney. This is known as pro se divorces. The article can be found at the following post : http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20120909. The economy is one reason for pro se divorces. High legal costs is another factor. In the article, the pros and cons of such filings are listed. Of course, there is no substitute for obtaining legal advice. This is one argument against pre se filings. The costs of legal services, and the occasional protracted divorce proceedings are reasons that militate in favor of pro se divorces. There are now attorneys who take a middle ground and charge a modest fee to help parties fill out the paperwork themselves in cases where no agreement is necessary or where the parties have already made an agreement. (I am a proponent of such hybrid cases and have done this for a number of clients.)
The counties that were able to offer statistics regarding pro se divorces, in Florida and California, report that such pre se divorces number from 55% to 95% of all divorce cases. Many courts have an extensive legal library where forms and pointers are available for those who wish to file a pro se divorce.
The caveat is that the stress of divorce effects people’s abilities to make proper decisions. In light of that, I advise parties who will file pro se to seek out an hour or two of legal consultation regarding their proposed agreement before it is filed. The best approach, I believe, for all is to first seek divorce mediation for the agreement and then, if pre so filing is needed for financial considerations, proceed according to prudent guidelines.