Since most people are not attorneys,
divorce is a scary experience, especially when there are children involved and
marital assets to divide. The last thing spouses need is to have their
spouse’s divorce lawyer intimidating them inside and outside of court.
Yet, some spouses are convinced that with the help of the Internet, they
can save money if they represent themselves, even if their spouse has
retained their own attorney. Are you legally required to have an attorney
simply because your spouse hires one?
No, you’re allowed to represent yourself, but you’d be hard-pressed
to find an attorney who says you should represent yourself, especially
if you have children or any measurable assets.
Should I share my spouse’s divorce attorney?
It is not custom for divorce attorneys to represent both spouses in a divorce.
If your spouse tries to convince you to share an attorney so you two can
split the legal bill down the middle, forget about it. If your spouse
goes out and hires a divorce lawyer, your spouse’s attorney cannot
represent your best interests as well – that’s NOT how it works.
Under very limited circumstances a couple may use one attorney to handle
their divorce. This usually applies in rare cases where the couple has
agreed on all aspects of their divorce and simply want an attorney to
draw up their legal agreement. However, be forewarned that if your spouse
is the one that “retains” the attorney, then your spouse is
the lawyer’s actual client, not you.
If your spouse hires an attorney and you are technically the “unrepresented
spouse,” the attorney who draws up the marital settlement agreement
cannot give you legal advice because he or she is not actually representing
you. So, you’re at a disadvantage as far as legal advice is concerned.
If you don’t have any children, if you don’t own a home or
any real estate, and if you and your spouse don’t have much in the
bank, then you have a simple divorce and one attorney may be able to handle
it. However, as the unrepresented spouse, you want to make sure you fully
understand your legal rights.
When You Should Hire Your Own Attorney
Generally, it’s always in a spouse’s best interests to hire
their own divorce lawyer. If you have children, complex finances, or a
high-asset divorce case, then you
definitely need your own attorney.
An experienced divorce lawyer will advise you of your rights and they will
have the tools to get an accurate financial picture of your financial
situation. Essentially, an attorney will ensure that your rights are protected
and that you don’t get strong-armed into accepting an unfair settlement.
Need a Schenectady divorce attorney?
Contact The DeLorenzo Law Firm to get started!