Self-Representation in Court: A DIY Guide

Over the past decade in my legal practice, I’ve witnessed a rise in self-represented litigants. A wealth of resources now exist, easing the legal process for those brave enough to handle their own court cases. Embracing the era of self-representation, our firm contributes to these empowering resources.

The decision to undertake a court action independently, such as filing for divorce or paternity, necessitates legal advice. Even seemingly “simple” cases pose risks. Unaided, you may inadvertently waive unknown rights. Nonetheless, with available resources and education, effective self-representation is within reach.

But what if your case was “simple”? Is there a risk of filing an action myself?

Yes. There is always a risk if you are not a professional. However, with the help of all the resources and education out there, you may be able to effectively represent yourself.

Here are some steps with corresponding resources to help you get started:

1. Know the type of action you are filing:

The documents required for a filing are based on the type of action you are initiating.

For example, if your case is a simple divorce with no kids and no property, you will need the following to initiate action:

  • A Petition for Dissolution of Marriage;
  • Required Information Sheet; and
  • Notice of Related Cases

A Civil Cover Sheet will be automatically generated through the Florida E-filing Portal System. this document will be included with the rest as part of the packet to be served with the Summons.

If your case is a paternity action or a divorce with a minor child(ren), you will need the following to initiate action:

  • A Petition for Dissolution of Marriage;
  • Required Information Sheet;
  • Notice of Related Cases; and
  • Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).

Before you file, the Petition and UCCJEA must be signed and notarized.

And remember, these documents are required to initiate the action. Note, additional documents are necessary to finalize cases involving children, such as a Parenting Plan and a Certificate of Completion of Parenting Course.

2. Where to file:

In most cases, your case will need to be opened in the Circuit Court of the County that you or your spouse has been living in for the past six (6) months. Here’s a list of all the Counties in Florida, with a link to the Court’s website:

3. How to file:

Once your forms are complete, you can file them electronically through the E-Filing Portal. Of course, you can file your documents in person; however, make sure you check the Court’s website (in the County you will be filing in) for in-person protocols, as most Courts are currently closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • To file a case electronically you’ll need:
    • To register with the appropriate E-Filing Portal. Click here to create your account. Click here for a video on how to register; and here for written instructions with pictures.
    • Please choose “Self-Represented Litigant” as the filer role when registering.
    • Have files appropriately formatted. (PDF)
    • Know the court where the case is pending. (See Step #2)
    • You should know filing deadlines.
  • Check the relevant portions of Florida’s Civil Procedure to make sure you are filing everything you need to file!


Despite inherent risks, self-representation in legal matters is an achievable goal. With the right resources and a proactive approach, you can navigate the legal landscape with confidence.

The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.

Have more questions? Let us know by sending an email to: and we will do our best to develop content to provide you with direction and insight!

For more information:
Check out and subscribe to our YouTube Channel
Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook
Visit our website
Shop our Legal Templates

No Attorney-Client Relationship or Legal Advice: Communication of information by, in, to or through this Website and your receipt or use of it: (1) is not provided in the course of and does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship; (2) is not intended as a solicitation; (3) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice; and (4) is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney. You should not act upon any such information without first seeking qualified professional counsel on you specific matter. The hiring of an attorney is an important decision that should not be based solely upon Web site communications or advertisements. Feel free to contact us if you need legal assistance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *