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Economic Downturn Has Increased Number of Pro Se Divorces in Florida

1222896_coins sxchu username iprole.jpgAs a result of tough financial times, married couples seeking a divorce in Florida are increasingly filing for dissolution of their marriages without the assistance of an attorney. In fact, more than half of divorces filed in both Sarasota and Manatee counties within the past five years involved at least one pro se spouse. An individual who acts as his or her own attorney in court is normally referred to as a pro se litigant. Depressed housing values, fewer assets, and the perceived cost of legal fees may all play a role in the trend.

In the past, home equity was a big source of contention in may Florida divorces. When the housing bubble burst, many divorcing couples turned to online or other do-it-yourself divorce forms. As a result, too many pro se divorcees do not fully understand their legal rights, and unfortunately end up making unwise compromises with regard to financial support, child visitation, and other aspects of family law. Not surprisingly, the divorce process can be a dangerous road to travel alone.

For many divorcing spouses, going before a judge without the assistance of an experienced legal advocate is a mistake. First, the economic downturn has resulted in budget cuts that can affect those who choose to represent themselves in a Florida family court. For example, most Legal Aid and low-cost mediation services throughout the state have lost funding. This results in dramatically increased wait times before a pro se litigant may obtain an appointment. Consequently, many would-be divorcees attend library workshops where a volunteer explains what specific legal terms mean and how to fill out a pro se divorce petition. However, such volunteers may not provide important legal advice. Additionally, Florida family court case managers are often stretched thin and public law libraries are often underfunded. As thousands of legal novices try acting as their own attorneys, Florida family law courts have reportedly become increasingly bogged down.

If you are considering ending your marriage, it is important to remember that Florida is a no-fault divorce state. This means neither partner needs to be held responsible for the end of a marriage. Although most family law matters can be resolved outside of court through a negotiated settlement, you still need a dedicated advocate on your side to represent your interests.

No matter the situation, couples who seek to end their marriage may negotiate a postnuptial agreement like a marital settlement agreement prior to filing a petition for dissolution. A postnuptial agreement can save divorcing couples both time and hassle because it will normally address the disposition of assets, pets, and any agreed upon spousal support obligations. If you are considering divorce, you should contact a hardworking family law attorney early on in the process to help you protect your rights and your financial future.

If you have made the difficult decision to end your marriage, contact dedicated Aventura family law attorney Sandy T. Fox today. Mr. Fox is available to help you navigate the sometimes complicated divorce process. He is committed to helping you address the often overlooked issues which must be considered whenever a marriage ends. If you have any family law questions, please do not hesitate to call Sandy T. Fox toll free at (800) 596-0579 today to schedule a confidential consultation. You may also contact him through his website.

More Blog Posts:

Fisher Island Father Jailed for Contempt in Miami-Dade After He Allows His 16-Year-Old Son to Marry, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, July 13, 2012
Alimony, Child Support, Equitable Distribution And Attorney’s Fee Award Reversed In Broward Divorce, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, June 25, 2012
Additional Resources:

Courts seeing more do-it-yourself divorces, by Robert Eckhart, Herald-Tribune

Photo credit: iprole, Stock.xchng

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