FBA-H-53 Pro Se Divorce Broc hure 2 9/17/2009
(Created by Fairfax Bar Association)
PRO SE DIVORCE SUITS
“Pro se” means that a party to a lawsuit is representing him or herself. All persons
involved in divorce cases are strongly encouraged to consult with an attorney so that the
legal proceedings and the effect of legal documents and orders can be fully explained to
you. If you have children, property, or support issues which need to be decided by the
court and which have not been resolved by an agreement, you are not required to retain
an attorney, but neither the Clerk’s Office personnel nor the judges’ law clerks can give
you advice on how to proceed. If you proceed without legal counsel, you may
unknowingly lose rights to custody or visitation, child or spousal support,
distribution of property, or other legal claims arising out of your marriage.
Furthermore, at trial the same rules will apply as if you had an attorney, and the Judge is
not permitted to help you in presenting your case.
If you do not know your spouse's whereabouts, or if he/she is in jail for
committing a felony, these are special circumstances which you should also address with
“Uncontested divorce actions” are those in which the parties have agreed upon all
issues before the court, or those in which it is anticipated that only one side will actively
participate. “No-fault divorce” suits are those in which the parties only ask for a divorce
on the grounds that they have lived separate and apart for the period of time required by
The Clerk's Office cannot make recommendations for specific attorneys, but you can
The Virginia Lawyer State Bar Referral Service
The Fairfax Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
If you decide to proceed on your own, you will be expected to follow the same
procedures as an attorney. If your case is uncontested it may take two to six months to
complete your divorce even if there are no complications. If your case is contested, a
final hearing will be set at a “Scheduling Conference” and your case will usually take
much longer than six months to complete. One hearing will be set for custody and
visitation, and a separate hearing will be set for property division and support.
You are responsible for preparing all documents to be submitted in the divorce.
Please DO NOT ask Court personnel for legal advice or assistance. State law prohibits
Court personnel from giving you legal advice or assistance.
Before you file for divorce, you may wish to review the appropriate divorce laws
in the Virginia Code. The Virginia Code books are located in the Law Library at the
Judicial Center and at Regional and Community Library locations. The Virginia Code