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.

Uncontested Divorces

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.

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90 Day Cooling Off Period for a Divorce in Pennsylvania

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While some couples agree on financial and child custody issues in divorce cases, other do not. Sometimes only one issue remains unresolved, sometimes many. Divorce actions in which the spouses cannot come to agreement on all issues are referred to as contested divorces in California and must be taken to trial for resolution by the family court judge.

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