If you are contemplating a divorce, a divorce lawyer can be an important ally during difficult times. If the divorce appears amicable, and both sides agree on the major issues, you may think saving money by hiring only one attorney is sufficient.
Such a move may save you in attorney’s fees. However, attorneys are not permitted to represent opposite sides in a case due to a conflict of interest. Even if your spouse and you are getting alone and have an agreeable relationship, your divorce puts you on opposing sides of a lawsuit.
The divorce action is not just about splitting up your relationship. It involves the division of property, assets, debts, and determination of alimony, child support and custody. Whatever one party receives, the other party loses. If A is awarded the house, B loses the house. This puts you in a naturally adversarial position with your spouse, even if you get along.
An attorney cannot represent both the winning party and the losing party at the same time.
Does Each Party Require An Attorney?
If you are certain that you agree on all important issues, such as asset division and child custody, you may not need two attorneys. You can proceed with the divorce with only one of you having legal representation.
In fact, you could get a divorce without any attorney. This can become a money-saving DIY matter, with both of you filling out and filing the necessary papers on your own. But is this a good idea?
Reasons You Should Have Your Own Attorney
There are several reasons why hiring a divorce attorney is money well-spent. The attorney will ensure that the process goes smoothly and that all court mandates and deadlines are met. Since he or she is familiar with the process, the divorce can usually be obtained much faster and without unnecessary delays.
An attorney will, in effect, serve in the role of your guardian. He or she will look out for your best interests, because be assured that your spouse’s attorney will protect your spouse’s interest at all cost. This does not mean that an attorney will accelerate hostilities. Quite the opposite. An attorney can smooth over any rough spots and settle them amicably.
Both Parties Benefit From Having Their Own Attorneys
Because one of the jobs of a divorce attorney is to protect and guard his or her client’s interest, both you and your spouse should have your own “legal guardians.” If there are no assets, debts, or children involved, you may decide on a do-it-yourself divorce, but even then, legal representation is recommended to cover all possible future issues, such as pension and retirement funds.
If your spouse already has an attorney, you should follow suit – just to have someone look over all documents and ensure your interests have been satisfied. You may think you agree with what is in the documents, but assets and debts can be complex. As a professional, your attorney can review for nuances and vagaries that may cause potential future problems.
Doesn’t Hiring Only One Attorney Save Money?
Dividing assets and debts and creating two households can be hard on your finances. You may welcome some financial relief by hiring only one attorney.
However, s mall savings in the present may turn costly and expensive in the future. Do you truly understand your rights regarding your spouse’s retirement funds? Who owns items (such as a car) that were brought into the marriage? Even “simple” issues can become complex. By signing documents without legal advice, you may be signing away more than you realize. Instead of saving money, you could find yourself facing a serious financial loss.
When you hire an attorney, he or she will know exactly which issues to address and what your future rights and obligations are.
An Attorney As A Neutral Party
You do not need a courtroom to settle your differences during a divorce. A neutral mediator can help you with any disagreements and will cost you considerably less. You can have an attorney present during mediation, but such a legal representative will be neutral and will consider both your and your spouse’s interests without representing either of you.
Said neutral attorney can cover the nuances you may not have considered, review all paperwork for accuracy, and ensure that all financial issues are disclosed. In the event of disagreements, the attorney will work toward cooperation and an equitable settlement for everyone. This mediation attorney is not working for you or your spouse; instead, he or she is present as a technical legal expert overseeing the bigger picture. He or she can draft a settlement agreement that will serve all parties.
There are no special legal requirements for you or your spouse to have representation during your divorce. But even an amicable dissolution of marriages can become complex, and expert legal advice that is protecting your interests can make a huge difference in how you begin your new, non-married life.
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.
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