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.