Should The Couple Hire One Attorney Or Separate Attorneys?
A potential client will often ask if they can hire one lawyer for a divorce matter rather than hiring separate lawyers for each party. This is a common misconception. It is not possible for a husband and wife to share the same divorce attorney. It may be that one of them has an attorney and one of them does not, but this situation is not the same as sharing one attorney.
If the wife hires an attorney, that attorney is giving her legal advice and representing her best interests solely. Her attorney cannot then ethically give the husband legal advice, and must avoid misleading the husband and wifes as to representing both parties.
While it is possible to go through a divorce with only one party represented, it is advisable that the party with no attorney at least initially consult with an experienced attorney about their specific circumstances and concerns, and make an educated decision on how to proceed. To rely upon representations made by the spouse’s attorney can only lead to confusion and regret regarding decisions made in a divorce matter.
Should Someone Hire An Attorney For Their Divorce Or Represent Themselves?
There's an old saying that the client who represents himself has a fool for a client. This adage holds true all the more today. For a client to represent themselves in a divorce matter, they would need to know the laws in Michigan regarding division of property as well as how custody matters are decided, parenting time, and how child support is calculated if they have minor children.
If there's an issue of spousal support, the do-it-yourself client would also need to know the twelve factors for calculating spousal support and how to determine those issues. When you add the additional requirement that you would need to know how to navigate the court system and how to properly prepare, file and serve paperwork (not just fill out some forms on line), divorce quickly becomes a very overwhelming task to try to handle without a professional.
We frequently meet with potential clients who are considering handling their divorce without an attorney. At a minimum, you should consult with a divorce attorney prior to the divorce case. This will give you a sense of what the issues are in your divorce matter, the pros and cons of hiring an attorney, and then make a more informed decision. There is almost no individual who would be best-served by handling a divorce matter without an attorney.
Another misconception is that you can obtain forms online or go to the courthouse and fill out a few forms and be on your way to completing a divorce. Even under the most simple circumstances, it's important to keep in mind that the employees of the court are prohibited by law from giving legal advice should you need it. It puts them in a very difficult position when someone starts asking questions about how to handle a divorce.
In my 19 years of divorce practice, I have seen many divorce cases handled very poorly by an individual who had no attorney during the divorce matter. Mistakes are made that quite frankly cannot be fixed later and can affect a client’s financial livelihood in some cases for the rest of their lives. There's a great deal at stake in a divorce matter when you're dealing with spousal support, real estate, investment accounts, retirement accounts, trusts, or debts. This is without even looking at the issues that can be involved with minor children, such as custody, parenting time, child support, tax exemptions, day care expenses, therapy, private school tuition, and other issues.
If you're preparing for divorce and are in need of legal representation, contact the American Divorce Association for Men for a FREE initial telephone consultation at 248-356-ADAM (2326).
About ADAM (American Divorce Association for Men)
The American Divorce Association for Men (ADAM) is a group of highly qualified attorneys who advocate for men’s rights in divorce, child custody and parenting time, paternity, support, property settlement, post judgment modifications, and other family law matters. Since 1988, ADAM has been aggressive, diligent, and uncompromising when representing their clients. A team of compassionate and skilled family law attorneys, ADAM is dedicated to being Michigan’s leading divorce attorneys for men.