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Is it a good idea to represent yourself in family law court?

Florida family law covers a wide range of legal issues, from alimony and child support to property division and post-divorce modifications. If you find yourself in a situation that requires lawful intervention, why not forego the hassle of attorney meetings and fees? Why not represent yourself, Pro Se, as they call it? 

The First Judicial Court of Florida does not recommend Pro Se representation for those involved in family law cases. The reason is simple. Family law is complex, and unless you have training in court procedures and the intricacies of legal statutes, you may find yourself confused and overwhelmed.

For those who decide to brush off the warning and forge ahead alone, the Court offers some advice. Pick up a packet of instructions from the county clerk's office, and follow them exactly. You will be responsible to move the case forward, so understanding each step of the process and completing each on time will be of utmost importance. The Court also reminds litigants of their responsibility to follow all the rules of civil procedure.

You may also take advantage of the Pro Se Court Program Specialists for guidance and referrals throughout the process, but the First Judicial Court is careful to point out the specialists are not lawyers. While this fact may not limit their knowledge of procedures, it does restrict the services they offer. For example, the specialists cannot "tell you what to say" or how to say it. They cannot offer you legal advice or act as a representative for you in court, and perhaps most importantly, they cannot offer you attorney-client privilege. Anything you discuss with a Pro Se Court Program Specialist is public information.

Note these details offer insight into self-representation and do not aim to provide legal advice. 

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Law Office of Philip J. Schipani
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