Can One Lawyer Represent Both Parties in a Divorce?

Dickinson Wright

It is not uncommon to think that because you and your spouse are amicable, that it would be much easier, and less expensive, if you can have one attorney for both of you. However, one attorney cannot represent both parties. An attorney is ethically prohibited from representing two people with conflicting interests who are in a dispute. The parties can attempt mediation without the use of attorneys, but the mediator cannot give legal advice to either party. The mediator can only assist the two parties to come to an agreement.

Sometimes couples have reached agreements without understanding all of their rights under the law. Even if everything can be resolved between the parties, you may still benefit from receiving at least some legal advice on matters such as tax considerations, retirement, and health insurance issues.

If your spouse has filed for divorce and said that you do not need an attorney, you should nevertheless meet with a lawyer for advice on how proceeding without a lawyer could affect your legal rights. This is an important decision that will result in a legal binding contract. Signing a contract without at least having a consultation with a lawyer or having a lawyer review the agreement, may cause you to waive and give up important legal rights. This does not mean the lawyer needs to represent you in the divorce. It may be that, after the initial consultation, you will decide that the agreements that you have reached with your spouse are indeed similar to the rights and responsibilities that would exist if you went to court and had a judge decide the issues. However, taking the step to at least have a consultation will give you some peace of mind that nothing has been missed, or at least give you the opportunity to consider what issues might exist that you wish to further explore.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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