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Can I Use My Spouse's Divorce Attorney?

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 DeLorenzo, Grasso & Dalmata to get started!