You may be thinking… my spouse and I agree on every issue AND we want to save money, so can we share a divorce attorney?
No. You and your spouse cannot and should not share a divorce attorney for several reasons:
- You and your spouse are opposing parties in the eyes of the court, so one attorney cannot represent both of you at trial or other court proceedings.
- An attorney is hired to represent your best interests, so representing both parties simultaneously presents a conflict of interest.
- If disagreements arise, your attorney cannot ethically represent both parties when your positions, interests, and values differ than those of your spouse.
- Even if you think you and your spouse have agreed on everything, there may be additional items you had not initially thought of.
- If you do reach an agreement, the attorney is unable to counsel on whether to accept or decline the agreement based on your specific and best interests.
Alternatively, either you or your spouse may hire an attorney while the other spouse is pro se (unrepresented). In this situation, the attorney is not representing both parties. The attorney will often work with the unrepresented party during the process but will not be able to represent and advise him or her.
It is important to note there are a few situations where having one attorney for two parties is permissible:
- Hiring a neutral attorney for mediation. The attorney will act as a neutral third-party to facilitate a sustainable agreement between the parties without representing one side or the other. In this situation, you may still wish to hire an attorney to review the agreement.
- Collaborative divorces. Parties share one attorney during the collaborative divorce process, but it can pose problems when negotiations break down. Both parties would then have to find separate representation and the collaborative attorney is conflicted out from representing either party.