Monday, April 22, 2013

The divorce lawyer's role in your uncontested divorce.

A lawyer works within a limited-scope representation when handling your uncontested divorce.  To me, one of most important thing to consider when choosing whether to proceed with your divorce without a more traditional in-court "fight," is how much you trust your spouse.  The reason for this is simple - an attorney working on your uncontested divorce is relying entirely on your disclosure of facts and will not be doing any independent investigation.  Your uncontested divorce lawyer will not be subpoenaing records from financial institutions, he or she won't depose your spouse, try to locate hidden assets, nor try to determine what would be a fair split of your property.

It is important for client's hiring an attorney for an uncontested divorce to understand that their representation does not likely include investigation and filing motions to compel the other spouse to do things.  Please see the following, taken directly from the limited scope representation agreement, as to what my role is in an "standard" uncontested divorce (following may vary a bit from case-to-case, as agreed upon by client and attorney):


I, the lawyer, agree to help you by performing the following limited services listed below and no other service, unless we revise this agreement in writing.

a) Give legal advice through office visits, telephone calls, fax, mail or e-mail;  YES

b) Advise about alternate means of resolving the matter including mediation & arbitration;  NO

c) Evaluate the client’s self-diagnosis of the case and advise about legal rights and responsibilities;  YES

d) Review pleadings and other documents prepared by you, the client;  NO

e) Provide guidance and procedural information regarding filing and serving documents;  YES

f) Suggest documents to be prepared;  YES

g) Draft pleadings, motions and other documents;  YES

h) Perform factual investigation including contacting witnesses, public record searches, 
in-depth interview of you, the client;  NO

i) Perform legal research and analysis;  NO

j) Evaluate settlement options;  NO

k) Perform discovery by interrogatories, deposition and requests for admissions;  NO

l) Plan for negotiations;  NO

m) Plan for court appearances; NO

n) Provide standby telephone assistance during negotiations or settlement conferences; NO

o) Refer you, the client, to expert witnesses, special masters or other attorneys; NO

p) Provide procedural assistance with and appeal; NO

q) Provide substantive legal arguments in an appeal;  NO

r) Appear in court for the limited purpose of (1) filing pleadings, (2) submitting final pleadings to the Court; (3) attending default hearing (if applicable); (4) filing Motion to Withdraw (if representation has ended because case is complete or because the scope of representation has been exceeded).  YES


As you can see, I give legal advice as to what is required for the uncontested divorce and, generally, how the law may apply to your situation and any questions you may have.  I prepare the pleadings in a legally sufficient manner to ensure accuracy and comprehensiveness, and file these pleadings with the court.  I appear in court, draft and file the appropriate pleadings, and at the end of the mandatory waiting period, present the final Judgment, Settlement Agreement, and (if applicable) Parenting Plan, to the court.  If the parenting plan and settlement agreement are approved, the dissolution is final upon the Judge's signature.

If you are interested in the uncontested divorce process or have questions regarding uncontested divorce, please feel free to contact me.  I handle uncontested divorces in St. Louis County, St. Charles County, St. Louis City, Franklin County, Jefferson County, and many other surrounding counties in Missouri for reasonable flat fees.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to contact me for more information.

Gerald W. Linnenbringer, Missouri Uncontested Divorce Attorney