Do I need a divorce lawyer if my spouse has one?


Do I need a divorce lawyer if my spouse has one?

Gavel with house split in half and cutouts of family on either sideAs people contemplate the divorce process, making a decision about whether or not to retain an attorney can be the first difficult choice that has to be made. There are not any matters in family court in the state of New Jersey that require a person to have an attorney to represent them. That being said, it is always best to have an attorney if your individual circumstances permit. Sometimes people are unable to hire counsel, unwilling to hire counsel, or simply prefer to navigate the process on their own.  Even if those circumstances may apply to you, and you believe that you do not need an attorney to represent your interests, before you make choices in your divorce matter, it is always best to consult with an attorney so that you are informed and understand your rights. 

Arguably, you do need a divorce lawyer if your spouse has one. Sometimes people do not understand how legal representation works and have questions about hiring an attorney. Technically, you do not need an attorney to represent you in the divorce process. However, if your spouse has retained an attorney, it is a wise choice for you to have a divorce lawyer if your spouse has one. As a non-attorney, it can be intimidating to represent yourself when your spouse has retained legal representation.

Can my spouse and I use the same lawyer? The answer is “no.” While divorces happen frequently without lawyers, and sometimes even with one lawyer, it is always best to have an attorney representing your interests. However, when neither party has retained an attorney, arguably, the parties are on equal footing in that they are dealing directly with each other. It is best to retain an attorney if your spouse has already hired an attorney. You will feel more comfortable about the process. You will not have concerns that your spouse has an advantage over you regarding legal advice, so while you may not need an attorney or be required to retain counsel, the best advice is yes, you do need a divorce lawyer if your spouse has one.

One couple, one lawyer.

Sometimes when people ask about pursuing a divorce with one lawyer, they might be referring to the mediation process. Mediators are generally lawyers, and oftentimes people pursue mediation as an alternative dispute resolution method. So rather than taking a more traditional approach, they attempt mediation, sometimes without their own individual representation and attend the mediation process. Under those circumstances, the parties are paying one lawyer, but that lawyer is not providing legal advice to the parties, instead that lawyer is acting as a neutral professor in the process. 

When parties consider a one lawyer divorce, they will quickly learn that one attorney cannot represent both parties in a divorce because it presents a conflict of interest. Under those circumstances, the parties have adverse interests, and it is inappropriate, unethical and impossible for one attorney to fairly and effectively represent both parties. 

Here at DeTorres and DeGeorge we worked tirelessly to ensure that we provide compassionate and zealous representation for our clients. Visit our article, “Should I get a divorce attorney?”, for more information on the importance of retaining counsel. If you want to discuss if you need a divorce lawyer because your spouse has one contact us today for a consultation. We can talk with you about whether an attorney can represent both parties in a divorce and whether it’s a good idea for you to consider using the same lawyer for a divorce. Contact us today for a consultation.


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