In a previous blog article, we talk about whether one lawyer can help two parties in a divorce. The answer to that question is a firm “no.” One lawyer cannot represent both parties in a divorce under ethical rules because it is a conflict.
Some then ask whether they need lawyers at all to help with a divorce where the parties desire to settle. They wonder whether they can do the divorce on their own. Even while parties technically can do a divorce on their own, practically speaking, there are problems with trying to complete a divorce without lawyers.
First, to file the case and get the appropriate settlement before to a family court judge require a tremendous amount of skill. Most individuals, unless they have had training as a paralegal or they have some legal training, will not be able to file the appropriate paperwork to begin and complete the case.
A family court judge also cannot give legal advice to parties. Thus, if the paperwork is not completed appropriately, the judge cannot tell the parties what is missing and what is still needed. Parties need lawyers for legal advice.
Beyond the paperwork, most divorcing parties are unable to reach an agreement on all the issues in a divorce or family law matter. The truth is that divorce often takes place because parties are unable to communicate and compromise.
It is difficult for parties to negotiate and agree on all the essential terms on their own when in the midst of a divorce or family law matter. In many cases, there might be bickering or disagreements. Parties also might forget essential terms that can lead to litigation later or be in a position of unequal bargaining power and sophistication.
Collaborative divorce can help ensure the paperwork is completed appropriately because both parties will have a collaborative divorce lawyer. It can also help ensure that the parties are able to negotiate all the essential terms to come to a resolution with the help of a collaborative team.
Thus, while parties are technically not required to have attorneys, it is generally not a good idea. If you are interested in more information about collaborative practice, you can contact the Missouri Collaborative Institue online.