The decision to end a marriage is typically not easily made. If you have reached that decision, it likely took you months, even years, of contemplation and soul searching to get there. It may also be that your spouse made the decision for you by asking for a divorce. Either way, the next step is to legally end the marriage through the process of divorce. If you have discussed the terms of your divorce with your spouse and you have reached an agreement on all those terms, it will definitely make the divorce process easier for everyone involved. If your spouse has consulted with an attorney and drawn up a Marital Settlement Agreement, do you need your own divorce attorney if you and your spouse agree on everything? The simple answer is “yes.”
When Divorce becomes Inevitable
Just as no two relationships follow the exact same path to the alter, no two follow the same path to divorce. Sometimes divorce is a mutual decision while other times only one party really wants the marriage to end. Regardless of exactly how you and your spouse reached the decision to end your marriage, once the decision has been made you must decide how to resolve all of the issues that follow. Ideally, you and your spouse will be able to sit down and calmly decide how each potential issue in your divorce will be decided. From that point, you can reduce those decisions and agreements to a Marital Settlement Agreement that will be submitted to the court. Reaching an agreement will dramatically reduce the time and cost of your divorce, making it the ideal scenario.
Do You Both Need a Divorce Attorney?
A common scenario has one spouse consulting with a divorce lawyer who then drafts a Marital Settlement Agreement for both spouses to sign. The problem with this is that a divorce lawyer can only ethically represent the interests of one party in the divorce. While it is not unethical for one attorney to consult with both parties, that attorney can only represent the interests of one party. What that means is that if your spouse’s lawyer drafts the Marital Settlement Agreement, that attorney is drafting the agreement with the best interests of your spouse in mind. Those interests do not necessarily conflict with your best interests, but if they do, your spouse’s attorney is under no obligation to tell you that. For this reason alone it is always wise to have your own divorce attorney review a proposed Marital Settlement Agreement that has been drafted by another attorney.
The other important reason to have your own divorce attorney is the very real possibility of a conflict arising at some point during the divorce. It may appear, initially, that you and your spouse have resolved all the potential issues in your divorce; however, if any of those agreements fall apart down the road your uncontested divorce becomes a contested divorce. At that point, you do not want to be unrepresented.
The best way to handle a divorce that appears to be amicable and uncontested is for each party to retain his or her own divorce attorney to draft and/or review the agreement reached by the parties. Once any necessary changes have been made to the agreement, and your attorney has reviewed it, the agreement can be submitted to the court. The time and money you spend having your own attorney review the agreement will be well worth it if it turns out that any of the provisions of the agreement are not in your best interest. It is also important to have your own attorney on board just in case something goes wrong and your amicable divorce turns adversarial.
Contact a Tennessee Divorce Attorney
If you have additional questions or concerns about the divorce process in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Tennessee divorce attorney as soon as possible. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.