I have seen many Pro Se litigants shocked and alarmed that their divorce was denied by a Judge or Family Master. “What’s wrong?” they will say, “I paid a lot of money for those papers.” The papers are generally not very specific and not even written for a Mississippi divorce. They have blanks and check boxes and many people filling them out don’t understand what it means or think it does not apply to their situation, so they just don’t put anything there. Judges don’t like blank spaces or check boxes not properly filled out because someone could go back and change the entire meaning of the order.
Even worse, some have filed papers and think that’s all that needs to be done. They are shocked to find out later that somehow they are not divorced. They have moved on with their lives; some have even married again.
What most people don’t realize is that the paperwork is the easy part. They could just go down to the courthouse and find a divorce (all public record) with similar circumstances, change the names, dates, etc., and save hundreds of dollars. But what then? Many will ask the clerk for help, but the clerks know that only a lawyer can give legal advice. The rules and procedures involved are found in the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure. Also, depending on how complex your case is, you might also need the Mississippi Rules of Evidence. If you don’t understand them, you may want to call an attorney. Many will even take payment plans, if you can’t pay it all up front.
If you do go it alone, remember, a judge must hold you to the standard they would an attorney. A mistake in your filings or in your testimony can end your case rather quickly. And if you say something like, “Pursuant to Rule 81(d)” you had better know what you are talking about, because you will likely be asked.