Pro se means you have chosen to proceed without the assistance of an attorney. If you are not sure you want to represent yourself, you can contact the Florida Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service to consult with an attorney. For more information on what a Self Help program can provide, please check the Self Help Section on the Florida Courts website. The Self-Help Center staff is employed by the Court to assist the Family Law Judges by making sure that cases in which the petitioner is not represented by an attorney have met procedural requirements. As in all matters involving legal issues, it is recommended that you obtain the services of a lawyer. It is important for you to understand that the Court and Program staff does not represent you, YOU represent yourself. You are not required to have an attorney in this process, but only an attorney can give legal advice. If you choose to proceed without an attorney, at any time in your case you can opt to hire one.
Please note that the Code of Judicial Conduct forbids the judges of the Eighth Judicial Circuit to discuss pending cases with the public. Please do not call the Court expecting to speak with a judge about any case. The Court is only allowed to consider arguments made in court, and in documents filed by actual parties to the case. They cannot ethically read or consider any other opinions or arguments about the case, and they are not allowed to give legal advice.
If you wish to proceed without a lawyer, the Self-Help Program staff will:
- Help you set a hearing with the Judge
- Explain procedures
- Inform you about additional court requirements
- Review your file before scheduling a court event to insure the correct forms have been filed
The staff will not:
- Give legal advice or explain your rights
- Represent you in Court
- Tell you what forms to file
- Tell you how to present your case
If you have decided to file a family law case without a lawyer, please follow these steps;
- Purchase the applicable forms and or packet from the Clerk of the Court.
- The Self-Help Center Staff may be reached at (352) 548-3781.
Appointments are available to answer procedural questions.
Our office is located on the fourth floor of the Family and Civil Justice Center, room 413.
- Complete the packet of forms in ink. Court staff cannot assist you in completing the forms.
- Further instructions regarding filling procedures are addressed in the packet instructions.
- File your documents with the Clerk of the Court. The Self-Help Center Staff will monitor the progress of your case.
If you require the services of a foreign language or sign language interpreter for court, please contact Court Interpreting.
Under the American with Disabilities Act, if you are a person with a disability who needs an accommodation in order to participate in this proceeding, you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the provision of certain assistance. Please contact the ADA Coordinator at (352) 337-6237, at least 7 days before your scheduled court appearance. If you are hearing or voice impaired, please call 711.
Three Rivers Legal Services Inc.:
Contact this agency for assistance in filling out the forms and legal advice.
(352) 372-0519 or online at www.trls.org
Notice of Limitations
The personnel in the Self-Help Center are not acting as your lawyer or providing legal advice.
Self-Help Center personnel are not acting on behalf of the court or any judge. The presiding judge in your case may require an amendment to a form or substitution of a different form. The judge is not required to grant the relief requested in a form.
The personnel in the Self-Help Center cannot tell you what your legal rights or remedies are, represent you in court, or tell you how to testify in court.
Self-Help Center services are available to all persons without legal representation who are or will be parties to a family case.
The information that you give to and receive from Self-Help Center personnel is not confidential and may be subject to disclosure at a later date. If another person involved in your case seeks assistance from the Self-Help Center, that person will be given the same level of assistance you received.
In all cases, it is best to consult with your own attorney, especially if your case presents significant issues regarding children, child support, alimony, retirement or pension benefits, assets, or liabilities.