There are countless pitfalls for representing yourself in court without the assistance of an attorney. It really depends on what the issues are. Some people have not been married that long, they’ve not accumulated any assets, they don’t have children; for those individuals, I think, it’s an ideal situation for them to represent themselves in court because there’s really nothing to lose. But if you have children, there can be some odds as to how you should move forth in raising those children – if there are custody issues involved, if there are parenting time issues involved. If you have assets: Do you have a home? Do you have substantial financial interest? Who is the breadwinner? That’s when it becomes much more complicated, and at the end of the day, if you represent yourself throughout, you could end up cheating yourself out of some things that you might be rightfully entitled to. There are pitfalls, but it depends on what’s at stake.
Rosalyn Charles is a family lawyer practicing in Newark, New Jersey.