The very definition of a pro se divorce is one without attorneys. When two parties want to avail themselves of the legal process without involving an attorney, they can do so under pro se divorce provisions. And yet, involving a lawyer to help–under what we call Limited Scope services–can bring you a faster, better divorce than if you truly go on your own.
In Bexar County, a pro se divorce involves the Staff Attorney’s Office with the Bexar County Civil District Courts. But as the Court makes clear, the staff attorney will not serve as your attorney, will not give you legal advice, and will not help you complete documents that you are submitting to the court. The attorney is merely there to make sure the documents meet the requirements for filing a pro se divorce.
Given the limitations of what the staff attorney can do to help couples pursuing a pro se divorce, you can definitely benefit from the involvement of an experienced family law attorney familiar with the Bexar County District Court system.
The first reason to have a lawyer review your proposed divorce decree is to make sure that you’re actually doing what you think your documents are saying you’re doing.
It’s important to note, when you’re doing this, that you’re not “sharing” a lawyer with your spouse to advise you. A lawyer can only technically advise one of the parties, even though both parties can be present for whatever explanations are happening. It can still remain a pro se divorce, even with this counsel, as long as both parties remain in agreement over the decree.
If the other party has questions that come up in the review, then that party should get a lawyer to represent him or her in the proceedings.
Sometimes, in the process of both parties reviewing a pro se divorce, what was thought to be an uncontested divorce becomes contested, more complicated, and needs lawyers to help them get toward a decree they can both sign off on. But it’s better to know that sooner rather than later in the process, and to not be surprised at the last minute by what’s actually in the decree.
In Bexar County, having an experienced family lawyer involved also speeds up the process. A lawyer here at the Law Office of Lisa Vance can take a pro se divorce to the courts, and get it on the docket faster than a couple would on their own. Pro se divorces in Bexar County typically have a six-month waiting period after the Staff Attorney’s Office has reviewed the documents.
For example, if I bring an uncontested pro se case to the courts, I can get it resolved between docket calls. For couples who thought they didn’t want to involve a lawyer at all, that specific, limited scope engagement allows them to wrap up their divorce six months sooner– and can prove well worth the investment.
If you’re a couple looking to move a pro se divorce through the courts, be it in Bexar County or one of the other surrounding counties we practice in, we’d love to help. Schedule a time with me or one of my colleagues here, to help you make sure it goes as smoothly as possible.