A Do-it-Yourself Missouri Divorce Can Lead to Difficulty

The number of people representing themselves in divorce proceedings has steadily increased over the last couple of years. When a person represents themselves in a divorce it is called a "pro se" case. A pro se case usually stems from a desire to save money, but there are also cultural forces that may influence a litigant to self-represent. A growing do-it-yourself mindset, a desire to cut out the "middleman," or simply a general apprehension about attorneys and the legal field can make a person contemplating divorce believe he or she is better off going it alone.

A person has every right to try his or her own divorce case, but the pitfalls can be numerous. Missouri law requires everyone pursuing a pro se civil case to complete the Litigant Awareness Program Online, which aims to determine a person's ability to represent himself or herself in court. Generally, it is not advisable to represent yourself in a divorce case if:

  • The divorce will be contentious or there has been physical or emotional abuse
  • One party to the divorce has handled all of the marriage's finances
  • One party to the divorce did not work or is a homemaker
  • There are high-value assets such as a home involved
  • One party is not comfortable with negotiation or public speaking
  • There are minor children involved

The more that is at stake in your divorce, the more likely your need for an attorney. For example, a divorce can affect the lives of your children for years - perhaps a lifetime. Protecting your parental rights in such a situation is well worth the cost of an attorney. In addition, alimony and child support orders will play a key role in the parties' financial futures.

A qualified divorce attorney has the knowledge and experience to effectively and efficiently represent your interests in divorce proceedings. If you are contemplating divorce, consult with an experienced divorce lawyer to learn more about the process and decide on the best course of action for you.