If you and your spouse have been able to agree on most of the issues surrounding your divorce and have decided to have an uncontested separation, the question often arises: do we each need our own attorney?
Important: If you have been officially served with a divorce, you are in a Contested Divorce and should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Contested divorces have strict deadlines which must be met to protect all your rights in the case. Furthermore, never sign an Acknowledgement of Service that is not part of a full uncontested divorce without consulting with your own attorney. If in doubt, consult with an attorney.
While you technically can have one attorney handling the divorce, it is important to keep several things in mind if you choose to decline having representation for each party. Firstly, a Georgia uncontested divorce lawyers can only ethically represent one of you in an uncontested divorce case. Therefore, while your spouse’s attorney can file a divorce case that is to your benefit and you agree to, if things get rocky you will need to retain your own separate attorney. Furthermore, the lawyer will only be able to advise one party confidentially and fully – and that person will be the attorney’s client. This could cost other party strategically. Therefore, it is important to early on to know for sure who the attorney is representing. An ethical attorney will make this clear – even if both spouses attend a consultation with the attorney together to discuss a divorce.
Many couples decide to only use one attorney in order to save money in the divorce process. While this works out in many situations, if issues around money, support, assets or debts arise and you do not have your own dedicated legal representation, your divorce could be much more costly than if you had originally hired an attorney.
Additionally, a lot of couples want to have an amicable divorce and think they can agree on a majority of issues. While a “joint” lawyer can help you communicate and even mediate the situation, many divorces transition from uncontested to contested over a single heated issue and are thus hard to resolve with only one party having representation.
For all of these reasons, it is usually unwise to try and use only one attorney when handling a divorce when there are children, alimony, significant assets or significant debts involved. In addition, if you do not feel you fully understand the divorce process you should at least consult with an attorney independent from your spouse. If your spouse is pushing your hard to agree to an uncontested divorce and you are having doubts, it is usually best to insist on having your own legal representation. This very well could save you much money and frustration in the long run; and provide you with peace of mind that you are doing the right thing. Again, if you and your spouse do end up using one attorney for your uncontested divorce, make sure attorney clarifies in writing on who the client is. This will enable you to think clearly and act swiftly in case you need to consult a second opinion.
Finally, in the case that your divorce will ultimately be uncontested but there is an issue that needs to be resolved first, always hire two lawyers. You will not be able to divorce amicably and quickly if you do not resolve the issue within reasonable time and agreement, and this will not be easy when one person has a distinct legal advantage.