Some couples mutually decide to divorce. They don’t foresee any major disputes and agree to resolve any issues that do arise amicably. They understand they need an attorney to handle all the necessary paperwork, but they think that it’s fine to simply share one divorce attorney to represent both of them. Why pay for two attorneys when neither side is contesting the divorce?
While this may seem like a rational decision, it has serious drawbacks. It’s wonderful when spouses are willing to negotiate and settle their disputes without litigation. Going to court is time-consuming and expensive. However, it’s just as important to have a strong advocate representing your interests in negotiation as it is with litigation.
The divorce process is inherently adversarial no matter how amicable the parties. Many issues can arise that affect the parties differently. Any negotiated solution is bound to benefit one side more than the other even if they balance each other out and the parties agree to accept the imbalance for other reasons. For example, we had a client who decided to agree to many of the demands of her spouse simply to get out of the marriage as quickly as possible. However, it is still important for each party to understand their rights and what they are gaining and giving up under a proposed settlement.
The problem with sharing an attorney with your spouse is that you lose an advocate who is wholly devoted to advising you what to do based on your unique perspective and interests. An attorney must have a duty of loyalty to one side. Representing both sides means the attorney basically doesn’t have a duty of loyalty to either of you.
It is understandable to want to save money on divorce, but to share a divorce attorney is not a good way to do that. You can still negotiate with your spouse to resolve divorce issues. However, before you sign off on an agreement, make sure you have obtained independent legal advice. Furthermore, in obtaining that advice, it is essential to talk with your attorney about your expectations and goals for divorce so that he or she takes those circumstances into account.
If you are considering a divorce, contact us to discuss how we can help you achieve the best result in your matter so you can move forward in your life.