The topic of shared representation in divorce frequently surfaces in divorce consultations. This guide explores the complexities and implications involved.
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. Due to a conflict of interest, attorneys cannot represent opposite sides in a case. 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 aims to keep the process smooth and meet all court mandates and deadlines. The familiarity of the attorney with the process usually expedites the divorce and prevents delays.
An attorney will, in effect, serve in the role of your guardian. Your attorney will prioritize your interests. Be aware, your spouse’s attorney will protect your spouse’s interest fervently. 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.” You might consider a do-it-yourself divorce if there are no assets, debts, or children involved. Even in this case, experts recommend legal representation to address potential future issues like pension and retirement funds.
If your spouse already hired an attorney, you should too. This ensures someone reviews all documents and protects your interests. 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?
Shared representation in divorce might initially appear beneficial. Mainly, couples might see it as a way to save on legal costs.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, small 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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