We often talk to parents about whether to file for child custody pro se, a legal term also known as 'self-representation.' In general, we recommend that parents proceed with caution when it comes to filing for child custody or child support pro se. The following questions and tips can help you determine the best course of action related to your case.
Here we test a novel self-compassion account that links these two theoretical self-affirmation perspectives. Specifically, we posit that self-affirmation activities increase feelings of self-compassion, characterized by increased self-directed feelings of sympathy and love, and reductions in feelings of vulnerability and criticism (cf. Neff, 2003a; Leary et al., 2007). Our self-compassion account is consistent with the existing theoretical frameworks for self-affirmation: increasing self-compassion is one form of boosting one’s self-image (i.e., the self-resources perspective), and is associated with increased feelings of love and connection (i.e., the self-transcendence perspective; cf. Neff, 2003a). But this self-compassion perspective provides new specificity to these previous theoretical accounts by positing that the self-affirmation self-image boost is about feeling more compassion toward the self (and is not a general self-esteem boost as suggested by the self-resources perspective; Neff and Vonk, 2009), and that compassionate feelings engendered by self-affirmation are not other-directed (as suggested by the self-transcendence perspective), but directed toward the self. It is difficult, however, to disentangle whether these feelings stimulated through values affirmation are directed toward the self or toward others, and furthermore, it’s possible that compassionate feelings toward the self may generate compassion for others. Indeed, one important aspect of a self-compassionate attitude is the recognition of oneself as part of the human condition (Neff, 2003a); this sense of shared humanity may be encouraged by writing about important values, consistent with the self-transcendence perspective, but we suggest that the source of these feelings is a boost in self-compassion.
DO NOT IGNORE IT.  You should always respond to a summons and complaint.  The correct way to respond is to go to the clerk’s office at the address provided on the summons and tell the clerk that you want to file an answer.  The clerk will give you an answer form and can help you to complete it.  For more detailed assistance filing your answer, contact the NYC Financial Justice Hotline at 212-925-4929.
17See Self-Represented Litigation Network, “Model Code of Judicial Conduct Provisions on Self-Represented Litigation: Options for Alternative Comment Language Prepared in Support of Potential State Activity in Response to 2012 Resolution 2 of the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators” (Williamsburg, Va.: National Center for State Courts, 2013).
Make sure you follow those instructions! At that point, you will be given so many days to serve the defendant with the court summons. In some districts, the plaintiff has the choice of either delivering the summons himself, a friend deliver it, or having a federal Marshal deliver it. It is most effective to have either a federal Marshal deliver the summons, or a really big guy in a suit. Whoever delivers the summons must make a note of who the summons is delivered to, what the date is, and what time it was delivered. Record this information on the appropriate form that is sent to you with the summons, and take it back to the district court.
Reflecting on an important personal value in a self-affirmation exercise has been shown to have a broad range of beneficial effects across over 225 published studies (for reviews, see Sherman and Cohen, 2006; Cohen and Sherman, 2014). For example, a brief self-affirmation of an important personal value, such as writing about why you value friends and family, has been shown to buffer many different threats to the self, such as reducing rumination in response to failure feedback (Koole et al., 1999), lowering stress reactivity to social evaluation (Creswell et al., 2005, 2013), and in mitigating the effects of stereotype threat on academic performance in classroom settings (Cohen et al., 2006; Miyake et al., 2010). Despite this large body of work, the mechanisms of self-affirmation are not well specified, and currently two theoretical perspectives have been offered to explain how self-affirmation exerts its effects. A longstanding theoretical perspective posits that self-affirmation boosts one’s self-image for coping with self-threats (Sherman and Cohen, 2006). Although some studies provide support for this self-resources account (e.g., increasing self-esteem and self-regulatory strength; Schmeichel and Vohs, 2009; Sherman and Hartson, 2011), empirical support for this mechanistic explanation has been limited (Sherman and Cohen, 2006; Crocker et al., 2008). In contrast, a more recent theoretical perspective offers that self-affirmation enables one to transcend self-image concerns by increasing other-directed feelings (Crocker et al., 2008). In one influential study, Crocker et al. (2008) showed that affirmed participants reported greater feelings of love and connection, and that these feelings statistically explained how self-affirmation reduced defensiveness to a threatening health message.
Experimenters remained blind to participants’ affirmation condition during the experimental session, following procedures as in Study 1. Following procedures from recent self-compassion research (Leary et al., 2007, Study 4), participants arrived at the lab one-at-a-time for a study they believed explored the influence of adults’ moods on story telling. After providing written informed consent, participants completed individual difference baseline measures, including trait self-compassion (Neff, 2003b; Raes et al., 2011). Specifically, participants completed the 12-item Self-Compassion Scale – Short Form, which measures the frequency of self-compassionate feelings on a day to day basis (anchored 1 = almost never to 5 = almost always). Items were averaged to form a composite measure of trait self-compassion, with negative items reverse-scored (α = 0.86; Neff, 2003b; Raes et al., 2011). Trait self-compassion was embedded among two other exploratory baseline questionnaires: the NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) Extraversion subscale (Costa and McCrae, 1992), and the Dispositional Positive Emotions Scale (DPES) Compassion subscale (Shiota et al., 2006). Then, following existing procedures for testing compassionate feelings (Leary et al., 2007, Study 4), participants were videotaped while telling an extemporaneous children’s story beginning with, “Once upon a time, there was a little bear…” for 90 s. Participants, who believed we were collecting pilot data for an unrelated study, next completed a 3-min self-affirmation or control writing exercise as described in Study 1. Additionally, participants completed a 4-item manipulation check (α = 0.97) assessing whether the writing exercise was important to their self-identity. Specifically, participants rated the personal importance of the value they wrote about on a 6-point Likert scale (strongly disagree – strongly agree; i.e., “This value is an important part of who I am;” “In general, I try to live up to this value”).
The Supreme Court has held that where a statute permits attorney's fees to be awarded to the prevailing party, the attorney who prevails in a case brought under a federal statute as a pro se litigant is not entitled to an award of attorney's fees.[51] This ruling was based on the court's determination that such statutes contemplate an attorney-client relationship between the party and the attorney prosecuting or defending the case, and that Congress intends to encourage litigants to seek the advice of a competent and detached third party. As the court noted, the various circuits had previously agreed in various rulings "that a pro se litigant who is not a lawyer is not entitled to attorney's fees".[52]

The civil legal needs of both low- and moderate-income individuals in the United States are not being met.2 The need for legal assistance by over one hundred million people in this country is dire.3 Today’s courts look nothing like the ideal. Around the country, state and federal courts regularly encounter pro se litigants: that is, litigants without attorney representation.4 When opposed by an adversary with a lawyer, litigants representing themselves often lose even when the merits of the case favor them. The imbalance leads to injustice.
Although Canon 2C relates only to membership in organizations that invidiously discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion or national origin, a judge’s membership in an organization that engages in any invidiously discriminatory membership practices prohibited by applicable law violates Canons 2 and 2A and gives the appearance of impropriety. In addition, it would be a violation of Canons 2 and 2A for a judge to arrange a meeting at a club that the judge knows practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin in its membership or other policies, or for the judge to use such a club regularly. Moreover, public manifestation by a judge of the judge’s knowing approval of invidious discrimination on any basis gives the appearance of impropriety under Canon 2 and diminishes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, in violation of Canon 2A.
Clarence Earl Gideon was too poor to afford an attorney and thus proceeded pro se in his criminal trial in Florida in 1961. He was found guilty and subsequently appealed. He was appointed counsel (his attorney, Abe Fortas, later became a Supreme Court Justice) when the case reached the U.S. Supreme Court; the court ruled in Gideon v. Wainwright that the right to counsel means that states are required to provide counsel free of charge to indigent defendants in all criminal cases and that Florida's failure to appoint such counsel in Gideon's case constituted a violation of that right.[94] On remand, Gideon was represented in the new trial, and was acquitted.
The Sixth Amendment guarantees criminal defendants the right to representation by counsel.  In 1975, the Supreme Court held that the structure of the Sixth Amendment necessarily implies that a defendant in a state criminal trial has a constitutional right to proceed without counsel when he voluntarily and intelligently elects to do so. See Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975).  Thus, an unwilling defendant may not be compelled by the State to accept the assistance of a lawyer.  A defendant's right to self-represenatation in federal criminal proceedings is codified in 28 U.S.C. § 1654. 
According to Utah Judicial Council report of 2006, 80 percent of self-represented people coming to the district court clerk's office seek additional help before coming to the courthouse. About 60 percent used the court's Web site, 19 percent sought help from a friend or relative, 11 percent from the court clerk, and 7 percent went to the library. In the justice courts, 59 percent sought no help.[40]
Public Counsel's Federal Pro Se Clinic can provide free legal assistance to people representing themselves in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.  The Clinic does not assist with criminal, bankruptcy, habeas, appeals, or any state cases.  The Clinic does not provide representation in court and cannot find an attorney to represent you.
Many pro se resources come from these sources: local courts, which may offer limited self-help assistance;[62] public interest groups, such as the American Bar Association, which sponsors reform and promotes resources for self-help[citation needed], and commercial services, which sell pre-made forms allowing self-represented parties to have formally correct documents. For example, the Self-Represented Litigation Network (SRLN) is an organization whose web site, srln.org, is dedicated to issues related to self-represented litigation and offers a curated resource library for legal professionals (courts, lawyers, and allies) engaged in pro se litigation. The organization provides no assistance with particular complaints.[63] "Self-help" legal service providers must take care not to cross the line into giving advice, in order to avoid "unauthorized practice of law", which in the U.S. is the unlawful act of a non-lawyer practicing law.[64]
I truly do appreciate the work you do and the information you provide as this is a great service to "all" citizens. Certainly more "legal information" is needed to increase "legal literacy" in the world today. I am amazed that you are able to respond so quickly given your "one man" operation. The "legacy" you are leaving by promoting "legal education" is important to this generation as well as future generations and I commend you for your efforts to impart of your knowledge. ... Leonard S.
We tested two predictions in Study 2: (1) whether self-affirmation increased feelings of self-compassion but not compassionate feelings toward others, and (2) whether trait self-compassion moderates the self-affirmation self-compassion effect, such that self-affirmation would be more likely to increase self-compassionate feelings among participants who had pre-existing low levels of trait self-compassion. To test these predictions, we conducted a multiple regression analysis that modeled the self-affirmation × video condition interaction, and the 3-way trait self-compassion × self-affirmation × video condition interaction. Specifically, this multiple regression analysis included the trait self-compassion continuous predictor variable, self-affirmation condition (self-affirmation = 1 or control = 0), and video condition (self = 1 or other video = 0) as predictor variables, along with their two-way interactions, and one 3-way interaction term. Table ​Table11 provides the results of this multiple regression analysis for compassionate feelings to the storytelling video, and Figure ​Figure33 visually depicts the results. Notably, this regression analysis revealed a significant main effect of video condition, such that those who watched their own video had lower feelings of compassion than those who watched the confederate’s video [β = -2.31, t(69) = -3.96, p < 0.005]. Moreover, we observed a significant trait self-compassion × video condition interaction, showing that participants lower in trait self-compassion rated their own video less favorably relative to participants higher in trait self-compassion (whereas trait self-compassion did not impact ratings of a peer’s video). This result conceptually replicates previous research showing that trait self-compassion moderates behavioral self-compassion to a storytelling video (Leary et al., 2007).

So, you have to decide what your goal is: (1) To post your complaint on the web in all its vitriolic splendor and go down in a blaze of glory or (2) to win your case. If its the former, go for it! If its the latter, get some help to draft a complaint in law talk, keep it simple, and go for the bucks you need to survive. You can do that, and still keep the street war going in a forum other than the courtroom. That's the win-win approach.


United States federal courts created the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system to obtain case and docket information from the United States district courts, United States courts of appeals, and United States bankruptcy courts.[68] The system, managed by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, allows lawyers and self-represented clients to obtain documents entered in the case much faster than regular mail.[68] However, the system charges fees, which were the subject of a class action lawsuit ongoing as of 2019.[69] Several federal courts published general guidelines for pro se litigants and Civil Rights complaint forms.[70][71][72][73]
Peggy Orenstein is the author of Flux: Women on Sex, Work, Love, Kids and Life in a Half-Changed World. An award-winning writer and speaker on issues affecting girls and women, she is a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine, and her work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Vogue, Glamour, Mirabella, Details, Elle, Mother Jones, The New Yorker, and other publications. Additionally, she has served as an editor at Esquire, Manhattan inc., 7 Days, and Mother Jones magazines.
Like the self-transcendence account, our Study 1 outcome showing that self-affirmation increases pro-social behavior is consistent with the idea that self-affirmation fosters social connectedness (Crocker et al., 2008; Burson et al., 2012), but our Study 2 findings suggest that these compassionate feelings may be directed toward the self (and not toward a peer). However, further research is necessary to clarify this finding. In Study 1, feelings of compassion boost pro-social behavior, but in Study 2, other-directed feelings of compassion are not impacted by self-affirmation writing. A ceiling effect may explain this seeming difference; the confederate “other” storytelling video we used was rather high quality, and may not have solicited a need for compassion, thus explaining the lack of variability in participants’ responses across conditions. Or, it’s possible that watching a peer’s slightly embarrassing video might not elicit a compassionate vs. judgmental response comparable to feelings of self-compassion vs. self-judgment in response to the self video. Future work is needed to establish whether self-affirmation also increases compassionate feelings for others in need, perhaps using different methods to compare self- vs. other-directed compassionate responses.
There is every reason to believe that the number of pro se litigants involved in litigation in federal and state courts will continue to rise in the coming years, especially given the courts’ focus on increasing access to pro se parties. Along with this increase, the challenges facing the judicial system and trial counsel involving unrepresented parties will continue to rise, requiring increasingly careful consideration. However, armed with the best practices, trial counsel can help alleviate some of the challenges both sides of the aisle face.
Make sure you follow those instructions! At that point, you will be given so many days to serve the defendant with the court summons. In some districts, the plaintiff has the choice of either delivering the summons himself, a friend deliver it, or having a federal Marshal deliver it. It is most effective to have either a federal Marshal deliver the summons, or a really big guy in a suit. Whoever delivers the summons must make a note of who the summons is delivered to, what the date is, and what time it was delivered. Record this information on the appropriate form that is sent to you with the summons, and take it back to the district court.
I would never say never and anything is possible in court. But I would say that it really hurts your chances a LOT. There are so many things that could go wrong or you might have an opportunity to win, but not recognize it because you do not know what to look for. If it is worth it to fight this, it is probably worth hiring an attorney. I am sorry to be the bearer of discouraging news. But litigation is always complicated and yours sounds more complex than normal.
Melville’s last novel was met mostly with ignorance. Perhaps it was Melville’s form and style, summed by his own words, “There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.” Though more true of Moby Dick than The Confidence Man, I suspect readers still didn’t quite know what to make of a novel that, despite being orderly by comparison, was nearly three-quarters dialog; without a discerna ...more
You will deal with all sorts of absurdities, injustices and indignities.  You will be told nonsense and lies with people looking you straight in the eye. You must learn to stare absurdities, injustices and indignities square in the face without losing your cool while still defending yourself.  Being outraged or emotional does NOT carry the weight it may carry outside the courtroom.
Some districts of the United States Federal Courts (e.g., the Central District of California) permit pro se litigants to receive documents electronically by an Electronic Filing Account (ECF), but only members of the bar are allowed to file documents electronically.[13][14] Other districts (e.g. the Northern District of Florida) permit "pro se" litigants to file and receive their documents electronically by following the same local requirements as licensed attorneys for PACER NEXT GEN qualifications and approval for electronic use in particular cases; an order of the assigned Judge on a pro se motion showing pro se's qualifications may be required.[15] A 2011 report from the Federal Judicial Center found 37 of the 94 allow pro se litigants to use ECF.[16]:1
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