Do Both Parties Have to Have an Attorney in a Divorce?
By Maggie Lourdes
The law does not require you and your spouse to hire separate lawyers for a divorce. You can fill out your own paperwork and represent yourself, or you can save time and attorney's fees by having an online legal document service fill out and file your paperwork for you. Parties generally do have separate attorneys in complicated or contested divorces in which they cannot agree on major issues to ensure the adequate protection of their own interests.
An uncontested divorce is one in which the spouses agree on the division of property, debts, spousal support, and child custody and support if applicable. In an uncontested divorce, while the parties can choose to prepare and submit their own paperwork, one spouse can also retain an attorney to represent him and the other spouse can cooperate as a self-represented party. One attorney cannot legally represent both parties. If the parties cannot agree on any issues, they can opt to attend mediation to resolve their conflicts, or in some states, they must attend court-ordered mediation.
Maggie Lourdes is a full-time attorney in southeast Michigan. She teaches law at Cleary University in Ann Arbor and online for National University in San Diego. Her writing has been featured in "Realtor Magazine," the N.Y. State Bar's "Health Law Journal," "Oakland County Legal News," "Michigan Probate & Estate Planning Journal," "Eye Spy Magazine" and "Surplus Today" magazine.