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Can A Divorce Attorney Work for Both Parties In A Divorce

Can A Divorce Attorney Work for Both Parties In A Divorce

Generally speaking, no, a single divorce attorney cannot represent both parties of a divorce simultaneously. There are, however, exceptions to every rule, and there is an exception to this one as well.

Why Not

The reason one divorce attorney cannot represent both parties at the same time during their divorce is because doing so would create a conflict of interest. What is that?

Any attorney's sole pursuit and responsibility is the rigorous representation of their client and seeking to achieve their client's best interests, no matter what field of law they practice. If one attorney is representing both the husband and wife in their divorce, how can she pursue her clients' best interests? She cannot because they have different interests, and what usually benefits one in some way will be to the detriment of the other in some way. It just can't work. This creates a conflict of interest.

The Exception

In most states, however, there is an exception to this rule. In situations where both parties to the divorce are splitting amicably and they really just want assistance with navigating the family court system and handling the paperwork involved, a single attorney might be able to represent them both. Here's how:

  • Both parties agree on major issues, like support and child custody.
  • Both parties agree that they can work out minor issues between themselves.
  • Both parties acknowledge that their attorney cannot fully pursue and represent their interests to the fullest due to their joint representation.
  • Both parties agree to the arrangement in writing.
  • Both parties agree the main reason for hiring an attorney is to handle the paperwork involved with the divorce.

If both the husband and wife cannot stick to the arrangement and disagreements that they cannot settle between themselves begin to arise, the attorney will have to remove herself from representing at least one of the clients. There are some circumstances where the attorney will need to cease representation of both clients, such as instances where the information the attorney knows about both parties makes it impossible for him to effectively represent either party.