Can We Use the Same Attorney for Our Divorce?
After 15 years of marriage, Brad and Lisa have decided to
end their marriage. To save on attorney’s fees, the couple asked Thurgood, their longtime family friend and a lawyer, to represent
Thurgood bellowed, “Absolutely not!”
Thurgood explained to the couple that one attorney cannot
ethically represent both individuals involved in a
This is because a divorce or legal separation action usually
involves two people with different interests. An attorney could
not be loyal to one party without doing a disservice to the other.
An attorney can represent one spouse and the other can go
unrepresented; however, this usually gives an advantage to the
spouse who is being represented by an attorney.
Where a couple thinks they agree on all issues, it may seem
logical to save money and use one attorney to "handle the
paperwork”. However, this is almost always a very bad idea and
can have potentially disastrous effects:
- If a lawyer chooses to represent both sides, it opens
the door to malpractice claims if either party believes they
were harmed by the lawyer's dual representation.
- If there are issues in the divorce that may be contested,
property rights that need to be determined, or if the
of the children is in dispute, one attorney cannot represent
It is a no-win situation for the lawyer and for the clients as
To save money, the couple could choose mediation, where they
would also benefit from having an attorney present. If Brad has
hired a lawyer, it is a good idea that Lisa look into hiring her
own lawyer to represent her interests.
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