Can I Represent Myself in a MN Divorce Proceeding?

People sometimes ask me whether they can represent themselves in a Minnesota divorce proceeding.  The answer is “Yes.”  One can always represent oneself in a court proceeding.

However, you need to keep in mind that in Minnesota, it is also legal to remove your own appendix. Just because its legal doesn’t mean that it is a good idea.

People who represent themselves are called pro se parties.  During a court proceeding, a pro se party is held to the same standard as an attorney.  A pro se party is expected to know the law, the rules, and the procedures, and he or she is expected to follow them.  He or she will not get a break from the court if he or she does not.

Generally speaking, the more complex a procedure becomes, the more necessary it is to have a attorney.  For example, if a person is appearing in court for the purpose of getting a domestic abuse restraining order, an attorney might not be necessary.  On the other hand, if a person is appearing in a series of court proceedings involving disputes about child custody, child support, spousal maintenance or other issues, hiring an attorney is probably a good idea.  It is very important that one hire an attorney if one’s spouse has hired an attorney.

Again, the court will let a person without an attorney represent themselves in court proceedings.  But, if that person messes up, they will not get a break.

Daniel Fiskum is a Minnesota divorce attorney who has been practicing since 1992. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and has been named a "Super Lawyer" by the Minnesota Journal of Law and Politics. Mr. Fiskum is currently writing a book for attorneys and non-attorneys entitled "The Streetfighter's Guide to Divorce," which is scheduled for publication in May, 2010. Many of his blog entries will appear in the book. You may contact attorney Fiskum directly at (952) 270-7700. His office is located in the Carlson Towers in Minnetonka, Minnesota. The Fiskum Law website is found at www.fiskumlaw.com.

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