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Top Five Mistakes made by Pro Se Litigants

Thinking about representing yourself? Don't make these mistakes.

1) Not knowing the law. It's hard to protect your rights when you're not even sure what rights you may or may not have.

2) Relying on inappropriate sources of information. Just because your buddy got a certain outcome does not mean your case will turn out the same. Everyone knows to take pretty much anything off the Internet with a grain of salt.

3) Not knowing the difference between relevant and irrelevant evidence. While it may be embarrassing to your spouse, the fact that their dad used to drink too much in the '80's probably has no relevance to any issue now, 30 years later.

4) Not being able to recognize your own emotional baggage. Decisions based purely on emotion, like marriage proposals, are fraught with peril.

5) Expecting the mediator or the Judge to protect your legal rights. Judges are ethically prohibited from helping Pro Se litigants; mediators are likewise prevented from providing Pro Se litigants legal advice.

6) Not understanding the difference between an opposing lawyer being professional/polite and "helping" them. Believe it or not, lawyers are required to treat all party opponents, whether it's another attorney or a Pro Se litigant, with respect. What they are not required to do, and in fact in normally cannot do, is provide assistance to the opposing party. In other words, while I cannot tell you to go to hell, I can allow you and your case to go there.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained herein is for educational or informational purposes only. It is NOT intended to serve as legal advice. The facts and circumstances in any one individual case may result in a different result than what is suggested here. Prior to signing ANY legal document the reader is strongly advised to consult with an attorney of their own choosing.

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