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Who does the uncontested divorce lawyer represent?

Posted By Attorney Jim Cairns || 6-Jan-2013

Once you hire an uncontested divorce lawyer in Pennsylvania, the question of "Who does the attorney represent?" is often asked. Whether you are in Philadelphia, Erie or anywhere in Pennsylvania, whoever signs the Client Services Agreement, Retainer Agreement or other agreement with the uncontested divorce attorney (at Cairns Law Offices) is the person who is represented by that lawyer. This means that sometimes the person paying for the uncontested Pennsylvania divorce is not always the client.

A lawyer may be paid by someone other than the client as long as the client is informed of the fact and consents to another person paying for the divorce services, and as long as the lawyer's duty of loyalty or independent judgment is not compromised. This is all controlled by the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct.

The person who retains the lawyer by entering into an agreement with the lawyer is known as the plaintiff. This is the person who is legally asking for the divorce. The other person is known as the defendant. Plaintiffs are the person who interact directly with the lawyer. Notifications and updates are sent to the plaintiff directly, not the defendant.

The plaintiff may also ask any questions to his/her attorney throughout the divorce process. This does not mean that questions by the defendant cannot be answered, but generally speaking, no legal advice may be given to the defendant. Many lawyers will refrain from any unnecessary contact with the defendant in order to avoid violating any rules of ethics.

In an uncontested divorce the law does not give preference to the person who hires a divorce lawyer. In order for the divorce paperwork to be filed a plaintiff and a defendant are needed for legal semantics. More often the person who files for the divorce hires the uncontested divorce attorney, and may use the argument that he or she was the one who filed the paperwork through his/her attorney. This most often a matter of pride than of legal implications.

Keep in mind that the law perceives any type of divorce as adversarial. This means that a lawyer can only represent one spouse. Rarely if ever can an uncontested divorce lawyer represent both parties, and most lawyers will not do so.

Defendants do have a couple of options open to them. They can hire a divorce coach to help him through the uncontested divorce. Divorce coaches generally can review paperwork and help his/her client reach their divorce goals in a more amicable manner.

Also, if the defendant is feeling uncomfortable without lawyer representation, the defendant can hire an attorney to review legal documents and represent them, if necessary. Most defendants in an uncontested divorce do not hire an attorney because their divorce is considered amicable. In addition, both the plaintiff and the defendant are welcome to read through our divorce blog and gather information from different sources.

Clients who decide to have an uncontested divorce are looking to keep their expenses down. They realize that a contested divorce will involve court fees, more time and additional attorney fees. More and more couples are looking to dissolve their marriage in the least possible hostile manner and not run up considerable debt. An uncontested divorce gives couples the opportunity to resolve their differences quickly and efficiently.