We often see that parties have discussed their divorce and believe they are in agreement as to all matters between them. These issues could be: custody, visitation, child support, any other topics related to the children, asset allocation, division of debts, alimony, etc. If you and your spouse agree as to all the issues of divorce, then the divorce may be considered “uncontested.”
Am I required to hire an attorney?
South Carolina provides forms in a Self-Represented Litigant Packet to assist parties in uncontested divorces who choose not to hire an attorney. In theory, generally these forms cover all the issues for a divorce. However, there are many ways to go wrong when you represent yourself. Procedurally and substantively, a self-represented (or “pro se”) party is held to the same legal standard and expectations as an attorney. The court will require you to strictly comply with all legal documents you must submit and notices of hearings. You will also be required to testify and question your own corroborating witness at a final hearing. Although the court makes every effort to be accessible, there are a number of family court rules you could find to be pitfalls in this process.
Can one attorney represent both my spouse and me?
Even for uncontested divorces, one attorney cannot represent both parties. This would be an inherent conflict of interest. This rule exists because there is a significant risk that the representation of one client would limit the lawyer’s responsibility to the other client. This does not mean that both parties must be represented, but it is advised.
Why do I need an attorney?
Additionally, divorce is more complex and emotional than most anticipate. Inevitably some conflict or disagreement arises. Perhaps the parties have not fully discussed a particular issue of the divorce, or circumstances change during the separation. Ideally, an attorney can ensure all the issues of divorce are discussed and can provide a comprehensive approach to a settlement agreement. Further, a lawyer will ensure that not only are your rights protected now, but also can help you best plan and understand a long-term solution.
Divorce also takes time. Especially if the parties have been married for years, the separation of two lives takes careful consideration. The time and expense of an attorney could save you heaps in the future. For example, if your settlement agreement does not fully address all matters related to the children or neglects joint financial debts, you could face additional litigation that is potentially more complex and expensive than the original divorce.
Divorce does not have to be difficult. An attorney can carry the burden for you as you navigate this process. A good family lawyer will help you manage your expectations and seek a reasonable approach to save you time and costs.
Contact a strong, experienced family law attorney at Hyde Law Firm, P.A, 864-804-6330. We are prepared to walk through the process of divorce with you each step of the way.