Lori R. Holyfield Attorney at Law

An Advocate Through Life's Transitions


My spouse gave me divorce papers and told me to have them notarized.  Should I sign them?

In many cases, both parties feel that they have reached an agreement involving an important legal issue, such as custody of a child, division of marital property, or the boundaries of a contractual relationship.  In such situations, one party will often retain an attorney to draft a binding contract reflecting the agreement the parties have reached.  The problem is that generally, the attorney drawing up the contract or agreement represents only one of the parties.  The document could be perfectly fair and mean exactly what both parties think it means, but how would the unrepresented party know?

Sometimes one party does not need full legal representation because the parties appear to have reached an agreement.  Many attorneys in the Memphis area, including myself, offer unbundled legal services such as review of the Marital Dissolution Agreement and/or Permanent Parenting Plan in a Tennessee uncontested divorce.  Document review, by itself, can be an affordable means of ensuring you are getting a fair deal.

I would never advise an unrepresented party to sign any kind of binding legal contract without the advice of a competent attorney, but this is particularly true in divorces, which are high stakes.  Divorce settlement documents in Shelby County typically affect everything that is nearest and dearest to you.  A signed Marital Dissolution Agreement could and probably will affect your rights to each and every piece of property either you and/or your spouse own - bank accounts, retirement accounts, real estate.  A signed Agreed Permanent Parenting Plan will certainly affect any minor children you have. 

Once you have signed a Marital Dissolution Agreement or Permanent Parenting Plan, they are extremely hard to get out of.  You owe yourself the peace of mind you will experience from knowing an attorney has looked over these documents and they mean exactly what you think they mean.  If they do not, then an attorney's advice will save you the immeasurable heartache of a bad deal.

If you are interested in document review services, please make an appointment to discuss your situation and your options.

Lori R. Holyfield focuses her practice in divorce and family law and serves Shelby, Tipton, and Fayette Counties in southwest Tennessee.

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Legal information posted or made available by Ms. Holyfield on or through this website is not intended as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship between any individual or entity and any attorney, including Ms. Holyfield. Such Legal Information is intended for general informational purposes only and should be used only as a starting point for addressing your legal issues. It is not a substitute for an in-person or telephone consultation with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction about your specific legal issue, and you should not rely upon such Legal Information.

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