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In Mass, can a friend or family member represent another person in a divorce proceeding if they are not a lawyer?

Southbridge, MA |
Filed under: Divorce

Wife and I are divorcing, we went through the entire proceeding, 3 days before her atty was supposed to file their papers stating what property they should get as division of marital assets she fired her atty and is now seeking to have a friend (who is not a lawyer) represent her?

3 days before final decree. We were in court and the judge granted the divorce, but wanted letters from each atty on what assets they wanted. so 3 days before that was due they fired their lawyer and are refusing to pay her.

Attorney Answers 5

Posted

I don't know what "three days before the proceeding" means - Did you meadiate an agreement and it was supposed to be filed and now she is refusing to allow it to be filed? That's too bad, but she has the right to do that. As far as having a friend who is not an attorney represent her, that's not happening and it would be an unlawful practice of law otherwise. Get your own attorney and move the process forward.

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Asker

Posted

Thanks Mark. As I'm sure you would know the atty's involved I won't mention any names. I guess I was not clear on the first part. Her lawyer was supposed to file a letter with the judge but 3 days before it was due she fired her. Now a family member sends a whole package of materials to my lawyer saying she is representing my wife! She has called my atty and he has refused her calls. But I believe this is just stalling the settlement. It's unfortunate because I truly wish her no ill will. I just want to move on with my life. But that doesn't mean I'm going to let them take advantage of me.

Asker

Posted

In this case the judge in courtroom #9 (which I thought was highly suspicious) allowed a person to testify that was not sworn in. I thought this could be grounds for a mistrial but I'm unsure.

Posted

The judge will not allow a non-lawyer to speak on your wife's behalf. She either needs a lawyer or needs to present her own case. She can, however, call witnesses to testify about certain aspects of like property division. If the Judge doesn't say anything about the non-lawyer representing your wife you should object to it immediately.
Sincerely,

Karla Mansur, Esq.
Law Office of Karla M. Mansur, LLC
81 Middle Street
Concord, MA 01742
P: (978) 341-5040 / F: (978) 401-0687
www.mansurlaw.com

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Posted

I agree with both my colleagues regarding her non-lawyer friend "representing" her, it will not be allowed. In addition, if by 'proceeding' you mean an actual contested trial or related, typically permission for an attorney to be dismissed from a case is denied if it would greatly prejudice opposing sides. Did the former attorney request leave of the court to be dismissed from the case? If this will greatly prolong the case you can possibly object to the motion.

A. Will Vella is an Massachusetts licensed attorney who focuses his practice on small business, family issues, and small personal matters . This response is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Additionally, this response does not create an attorney client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer in your state who practices in the appropriate area.

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Posted

Generally, the answer is no. A non-attorney cannot "represent" or speak for a litigant. Good luck.

Steve Coren

This answer does not consitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. The answer is based only on the facts presented. This answer is basd only on Massachusetts law.

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Posted

A non-lawyer cannot represent anyone in Probate Court. The friend can offer advice and guidance in the background, whether that is wise or not, but cannot speak in court on behalf of anyone. Your wife's attorney cannot represent you either, so it should not matter who wife is getting advice from attorney or not. You have separate interests to focus on and should have your own attorney. Granted, if your wife does not have an attorney the friend, as they often do, may be making the process more difficult. Good luck.

DISCLAIMER: This answer is provided in response to a "hypothetical" question and provided for general, informational purposes and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The information presented is not legal advice and may change based additional information and research. It is recommended that you speak to an attorney to discuss your specific legal issues.

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