The Reality of a “One Lawyer Divorce”
Many divorcing couples want to share one lawyer to handle their divorce. They may have already decided how they want to divide their property or have limited assets to divide. However, one lawyer cannot ethically represent both parties in a divorce. Therefore, after receiving numerous requests to represent both parties in a divorce, we have created a procedure to allow our firm to handle all of the paperwork and assist in completing the divorce from beginning to end.
Benefits of a One Lawyer Divorce
There are a number of benefits of a One Lawyer Divorce. The primary benefit is a complete divorce handled by an experienced divorce attorney for less money that you would pay two attorneys. Also, when parties agree to complete their divorce amicably, without fighting and without the need for litigation, there is less stress, and the parties are more prepared for life post-divorce. Finally, if there are minor children, an amicable divorce can lessen the impact of the divorce on the children.
How Does A One Lawyer Divorce Work?
Since one lawyer cannot represent both parties, one party will retain Pitler Family Law & Mediation, P.C. However, that party will sign an Acknowledgment stating that the attorney is being hired to draft the paperwork and to appear in court with the parties and specifically instructs the attorney not to take any actions that will disrupt the process.
Steps in a One Lawyer Divorce
The first step is the initial consultation. The attorney will meet with one or both parties in order to obtain information regarding their assets, liabilities and minor children, if any. The information provided at this meeting is the same as the initial meeting with any of our divorce clients. In order to accurately prepare the paperwork and to prepare a Judgment of Divorce which properly addresses all of the issues, we need to get a complete snapshot of the couple’s financial picture.
We will then draft the Complaint for Divorce and any other documents required by the court and file them with the court. Once the Complaint is filed, we will help complete the settlement. If necessary, we can bring in appraisers or financial experts to help value real estate, investments or businesses.
Once an agreement is reached, we will prepare the Judgment of Divorce. The Judgment of Divorce is the document that is filed with the court and it contains all of the terms of the settlement.
Finally, a short court hearing is necessary before the Judge will sign the Judgment of Divorce. We will attend the hearing with you and insure that all of the documents are properly filed.
Is A One Lawyer Divorce Suitable For Every Case?
No, a One Lawyer Divorce is only suitable if the parties have reached an agreement on the major issues in the divorce or have few assets to divide. If the parties have disagreements about how to divide the property or regarding custody or parenting time of the minor children, they should each retain their own attorney. In addition, a One Lawyer Divorce would not be appropriate if there is domestic violence.
If Our Case Is Not Suitable For A One Lawyer Divorce Are There Other Options For An Amicable Divorce?
Yes, one option is a Collaborative Divorce. In a Collaborative Divorce the parties and the attorneys sign a contract agreeing to work together to reach a settlement. The parties agree that, if a settlement is not reached, the attorneys will withdraw from the case, thereby taking away any incentive for either attorney to initiate litigation to generate a larger fee.
In addition, parties can agree to retain a private mediator to resolve the issues in their divorce prior to filing or soon thereafter, eliminating the need for litigation.
Randall B. Pitler is a court approved mediator and is certified in collaborative divorce law.
Pitler Family Law & Mediation, P.C. is the only Michigan family law firm devoted exclusively to Amicable Divorces. Our experienced Michigan divorce lawyers are trained in Collaborative Divorce and Mediation.