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.
Pro se divorce is divorce without a lawyer, and it is possible. 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.