Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What Does "In Pro Per" Mean? by Tim Bischel, Esq., Divorce Mediator

The law often uses archaic terms with which most people are not familiar in divorce proceedings. One of the most common terms, In Pro Per, appears on most court filings in divorce cases in San Diego. In Pro Per, or more specifically In Propria Persona, appears after the heading “Attorney For:” and literally means “for one’s self.” In Pro Per is used in California when a person acts as his/her own attorney in a legal dispute.

Filing In Pro Per does not mean you are limited in any of your legal rights, only that you are representing yourself in the proceeding. Many people choose to file In Pro Per for a variety of reasons, chief among these is cost.

Can parties who are In Pro Per get help from professonals?
However, just because you are taking responsibility for your own legal case does not mean that you cannot get significant assistance from a legal professional. NCRC offers mediation services which help people who are filing In Pro Per navigate and complete their cases. Depending on the level of assistance needed, a mediator can walk you through step by step each issue in a divorce or simply help you with the forms and court procedures in a single session.

Beyond NCRC many legal professionals are more than willing to bill you for a few hours of their time in order to explain forms, run support calculations, or work for you on a task by task basis without formally representing you in the case. So if you are filing In Pro Per, don’t think that you have to do everything by yourself. Different degrees of help are available to you as you navigate through the legal system.

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