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Uncontested divorce: a lawyer’s role

People interested in an uncontested divorce in Illinois are often interested in minimizing the cost of their divorce.  In general, I find that people are sometimes curious about the scope of a lawyer’s involvement in an uncontested divorce.

Below I address some common questions regarding lawyers’ involvement in uncontested divorces.

Do we both need a lawyer for an uncontested divorce?

One lawyer is more than enough to draft the materials needed, such as a marital settlement agreement, and joint parenting agreement. Further, most attorneys will supply the other party with the forms they should fill out In order to move the case forward.

Therefore, an uncontested divorce is affordable because it doesn’t involve needless disagreement and litigation, and because it can be accomplished with only one lawyer.

Can one lawyer represent both of us?

In theory, one lawyer could represent both people, so long as the joint-representation is disclosed. However, it is a very bad idea to do so – and most lawyers won’t do it, including myself. It might be a bad idea to search for a lawyer who will represent both parties in a divorce, because one who accepts such a job is probably suspiciously desperate for business.

What if my spouse is worried about being tricked into an agreement?

As outlined in my post “Phases of an Uncontested Divorce,” the crux of any uncontested divorce is a martial settlement agreement (MSA) and, if the parties have kids, a joint parenting agreement (JPA). Truth be told, both the MSA and JPA should be written in plain English, and both parties should be able to understand them.

However, even when a divorce is amicable and uncontested, it’s understandable that a spouse without a lawyer might feel exposed without the advice a lawyer. Anyone can at any time hire a lawyer, even in an uncontested case. So a person who starts off without a lawyer can hire one later, for ongoing counseling, or simply to review the proposed settlement agreement

What if I want my lawyer to explain the process to my spouse?

Normally a lawyer for one person does not speak to the spouse. In fact, if the adverse party is represented by counsel, doing so is not only unnecessary – it is against the rules of professional conduct lawyers must follow (with few exceptions).Further, many attorneys offering uncontested divorce services state in their agreements that they will not speak to their client’s spouse.

However, if a client wants me to speak to the spouse, I’m open to the possibility (some lawyers refuses to speak to spouses in an uncontested case). What’s necessary in that case is 1)  the non-client spouse signs a statement  acknowledging that I am not his or her attorney (to avoid misunderstandings), and 2) the client acknowledge that speaking in front of the spouse effectively waives the attorney-client privilege

What if things start to get heated?

A divorce that starts out as uncontested can become contested – parties might find out they don’t agree to the extent they previously believe. If that is the case, the same lawyer who you were dealing with for your previously uncontested case can continue to handle the case if it becomes contested.

How often do we have to meet?

Particularly in an uncontested divorce, meetings can be kept to a minimum. After all – most people have better things to do hang out with lawyers! In fact, it is possible to get an uncontested divorce and only meet your lawyer once in person – and that’s the day you actually get divorced – in court!

How do I get started?

You can contact me, Chicago divorce lawyer Dave Wolkowitz. I’ll try to give you a call back as soon as possible. I can answer your questions about the uncontested divorce process – and you will deal with me directly. In fact, to accommodate prospective client’s busy schedules, I’m more than happy to speak on evenings and weekends.  I’ve developed an efficient process to handle uncontested divorces, including the use of online file storage and e-signatures – to save everyone’s time.  My goal will be to handle your divorce with minimal disruption to your life – so you can move on.

You might also want to review my posts entitled “What is an Uncontested Divorce in Illinois?” and “”Phases of an Uncontested Divorce in Illinois

About the author: Contact Illinois family law attorney David Wolkowitz at 312-554-5433 or online. He is a family law and divorce attorney serving Chicago and the Counties of Cook, Champaign, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will. Areas of practice include divorce, uncontested divorce, child custody, visitation, spousal maintenance, child support, and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction & Enforcement Act (the “UCCJEA”).