What if I cannot get a lawyer? How do I represent myself?
If you cannot get a lawyer, you may have to represent yourself in court, which is known as being a "pro se litigant." (“Pro se” is a Latin term that means “on one’s own behalf.”) Many courthouses have an office within the court that assists self-represented litigants in filling out paperwork or by providing brief advice - ask the clerk of court if there is any help for pro se litigants available in the courthouse. Advocates at local domestic violence organizations may also be able to help you with filling out forms or may accompany you to court for support if you are a victim of abuse. Go to our State and Local Programs page to find an organization near you. For tips on representing yourself in court in a protection order or custody case, go to our Preparing Your Case page.