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1. What does Pro Se Divorce mean?

A pro se divorce is a divorce that is completed without any lawyers involved. Pro se, which is Latin for “on one’s own behalf” means one or both of the divorcing spouses are handling all of the obligations and responsibilities involved in the divorce. They are filing any paperwork needed to complete the process and they are representing themselves during any negotiations. There are pros and cons to approaching a divorce in a pro se manner.

2. How do I file a pro se divorce?

The pro se process begins with ensuring you qualify to file for divorce in your state and then filing the petition for divorce with the local court. It is also important to determine if no-fault divorce is an option in your state or if you will need to include grounds for divorce when you file. Bring two copies to your local Court Clerk to be stamped and filed. Finally, pay the fee for filing and arrange for your spouse to be notified that you have filed.

3. How long does Pro Se Divorce take?

The length of time it takes to finalize a divorce in a pro se divorce varies from state to state and situation to situation, but in general, it will take about 90 to 120 days. There is a waiting period after you file and your spouse is served and returns to the paperwork to the court to the date things can be finalized.

4. What typically happens if I go to court to obtain my divorce myself?

You are expected to meet all of the same obligations in court whether you are representing yourself or if you have an attorney. If you and your spouse have already negotiated a divorce agreement you will need to answer any questions presented to you by the court. In some cases, you will need to present evidence, which can make the situation more complicated. Obtaining a divorce on your own is best for uncontested and uncomplicated situations.

5. How long after mediation is divorce final?

Divorce mediation is known for saving time and money. Every situation is different and the timeframe for finalizing a divorce through mediation varies from case to case. However, the average length of time it takes to finalize a mediated divorce from start to finish is about three months. How long it takes once mediation is complete depends on how long it takes the court to give final approval of the mediated arrangement.

6. What can I expect at a divorce mediation?

During a divorce mediation, the mediator consults with each spouse and discusses their desires and concerns. Spouses can also be brought together into the same room to discuss their options. The various issues that arise during a divorce – division of assets, custody, spousal support, etc. – are negotiated and a tentative divorce agreement is put into place. The court must approve the final agreement, but in most cases, divorcing spouses are in control of their arrangement as long as they agree.

7. What are the benefits of divorce mediation?

Divorce mediation offers many benefits. It takes less time to negotiate a divorce agreement, so parties are able to resolve their issues and move on with their lives. Families that use mediation to end their marriage tend to have better relationships going forward and are better able to co-parent and make decisions without strife. Mediation gives couples complete control over their situation and allows them to create an agreement that is customized to their needs. Mediation also tends to be less expensive, though this varies from case to case.

8. How does divorce mediation differ from going to court?

Mediation is different from court because it takes less time, it is less complicated, it allows divorcing couples to have control of their situation, and it typically costs less money. Ending a marriage through litigation is a formal process that is time-consuming and typically results in a lot of hard feelings. It also gives control to the court and a judge determines the outcome instead of the people directly involved.

9. Will I be left with a legally binding agreement in divorce mediation?

Yes. Spouses that choose to mediate their divorce have control over the negotiation process and can walk away from the process at any time and pursue other avenues of resolution. However, once the agreement is finalized and the court signs off on it, what has been agreed to is a legally binding document. In order to make changes, the court would need to become involved and an official process of making a chance would be required.

10. When is divorce mediation not appropriate?

Mediation is extremely beneficial and has made the process of divorce much easier for many families. However, it is not right for everyone. If one spouse does not want a divorce it makes negotiating a divorce settlement extremely difficult. When one or both parties are unwilling to negotiate and make compromises, mediating the divorce can be a challenge. Some skilled mediators are able to work in these difficult situations, but the process is not always successful. If a marriage involved abuse mediation is not recommended.