Representing yourself in court
Unless specified, this information relates only to England and Wales. If you live in Scotland, go to Parenting across Scotland for information and advice. If you live in Northern Ireland, go to NI direct.
You have the right to speak for yourself in court without a solicitor or other legal professional. This means you can represent yourself in divorce proceedings.
If you represent yourself, you’ll be known as a ‘litigant in person’ or ‘self-represented party’. This is also sometimes called a ‘do-it yourself divorce’.
- Get advice early if there are any concerns about the safety of anyone involved. Remember, if there are safety concerns, you may be able to get legal aid to pay for a lawyer to represent you in court.
- Make sure you understand what the court process might cost you. Even if you represent yourself there are court fees to consider.
- You need to consider whether you have a good case before spending time and money going to court-it’s worth getting somebody professional who’s not inolved in the issue’s view on this.
For most people, the courts and the way they work are unfamiliar. So make sure you are clear about the steps you need to take, including what information and documents the court will need to have before any hearing.
Court staff will always try to help as much as they can with court procedure, but they cannot give you legal advice or tell you whether or not you have a good case.
- The court will expect forms or other court documents to be properly prepared, and there could be delays if this is not done.
- Courts are very busy places and there can be limited time to deal with things. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be for the judge and court staff to help you.
- If your ex is using a solicitor, that solicitor may also contact you. This can be a helpful part of the process and may help to make things clearer or even sort things out before the court hearing. However, solicitors are bound by strict rules of client confidentiality, so they might not be able to give you all of the information you ask for, and will have to check with their client whether, if and how they should respond to any communication from you.
Where can I go next?
Family Mediation Council
The Family Mediation Council is the umbrella professional body for family mediators. Visit their website to find out more about family mediation and to search for a local family mediator.
Gov.uk - Legal Aid checker
Legal aid is available for family mediation for those who are eligible. This means mediation could be free for you. Find out if you can get legal aid at this tool on Gov.uk.
Gov.uk- Representing yourself in court
View this guide on the Government's website for advice and information on how to go about representing yourself in court, including links to useful guides and forms.