Can a lawyer represent the two of us in our divorce if we agree? 18 Answers as of July 10, 2013

Well my husband has been back and forth with wanting a divorce, it of course all depending on the mood of his little online girlfriend. He keeps saying to. "Just because we get a divorce doesn't mean we can't still get back together" He keeps toying with my emotions this way, and personally just peeving me off with it all. I am not sure if any of what he tells me is true because I don't know the law, and as I am a stay at home mom, been so for 5 years, I don't have any money of my own. No accounts in my name, not even joint accounts with the hubby, I have little back up support, money wise. My family isn't as well off as my husbands. So I really can't afford even a retainer Fee for one even if I find one. I know I can get him to pay the lawyer fees everyone keeps telling me that, but that’s after that fee. So really kind of out of luck, and legal aid was little help, they don't have anyone in my area anymore, and the volunteer place said could take 8 weeks, if ever, to find one to take my case Anyways. Hubby tells me, even though we agreed on most everything about the divorce and how we will spend time with our kid and property and what not, that I can't talk to his lawyer who is suppose to be drawing up the parenting plan for us. He said its a conflict of interest, but from what I been told as long as you agree on it, the lawyer can represent you both. Is this true or not? I know my parents had the same lawyer during theirs. Also he says that with joint custody, the typical papers for it and what not, that if it says he suppose to be at some one house on the other parents day, and some one calls the cops on them, our kid can be taken away. Is this true, or is it a way to weasel his way around making sure he has physical custody and me with the visitation, which was not what we agreed on. He confuses me a lot and starting to think on purpose so I won't know what to do. And really I don't. Any suggestions.

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Fredric H. Aaron, Attorney at Law, P.C.
Fredric H. Aaron, Attorney at Law, P.C. | Fredric Harlan Aaron
It is not illegal or improper for an attorney to represent both husband and wife in a divorce. However, the attorney has to let both parties know that there is a potential conflict of interest, and that each spouse has the right to get separate representation. That being said, in your situation, it sounds like your husband already has a relationship with the attorney in question, and it is doubtful that this lawyer will be impartial in drawing up your divorce papers, including custody and visitation. Based on what you said, it is probable that a court may award you legal fees as well as pendent lite relief (in other words, spousal maintenance while the divorce is pending) since it seems that there is a definite imbalance in the financial situation between you and your husband. You might consider contacting women's groups to see if they can refer you to an attorney who would be willing to take your case before receiving a paid retainer with said retainer coming out of payments from a pendent lite award.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 6/29/2011
Fox Law Firm LLC
Fox Law Firm LLC | Tina Fox
The attorney cannot represent you both in the divorce proceedings, however, if you are acting pro se, the attorney can and actually has to speak with you about the matter(s) and agreements being drawn on your husband's behalf.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 6/29/2011
Beaulier Law Office
Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
No. There is a conflict of interest for the lawyer. A lawyer may represent one party and draft documents to be reviewed by the unrepresented party. If an agreement is reached, two attorneys would not be necessary and the second party may waive their right to counsel.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 6/28/2011
Beresford Booth PLLC
Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
You can't technically have the same lawyer although a conflict of interest can be waived.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 6/28/2011
Pontrello Law
Pontrello Law | William Pontrello
Yes but its not good sound like whatever he tells his lawyer you may agree too. if he has not let you into his finances or have and account it sounds like you are being duped. borrow the money, pay it back when the judge awards attorney fees. There can be a temporary award right in the beginning.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 7/10/2013
    Petit & Dommershausen SC
    Petit & Dommershausen SC | Tajara Dommershausen
    In Wisconsin an attorney can't represent both of you. They can mediate the matter but then they represent neither party. However, they can talk to you and you can negotiate with them. Your husband CANNOT stop you from talking to his lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 6/27/2011
    Seattle Divorce Services
    Seattle Divorce Services | Michael V. Fancher
    Under the Washington rules of professional conduct it is a conflict of interest for one attorney to represent both of you. Talk to an attorney in your area about how to get money from your husband out of community funds to pay your attorneys fees. I have never heard of children being taken away from the parents simply because they are not at the right house.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/27/2011
    Law Office of Patricia Van Haren
    Law Office of Patricia Van Haren | Patricia Van Haren
    You may have the same attorney represent you in your divorce, however it does not sound like that is advisable. Since you stay home with your children, your spouse would likely be required to pay for your attorney fees and costs. You should not sign any agreement prepared by his attorney without first consulting your own attorney. There are often family law attorneys who will allow you to pay a small retainer and they will seek fees from your husband who is employed. I strongly recommend that you call around and see if you can find an attorney in your area to offer you a free or reduced rate consultation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/27/2011
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    It is unethical for one attorney to represent both parties in a divorce. You should have your own attorney to determine whether what your husband is proposing is fair. From what you've said, I doubt it is a fair settlement. Joint custody refers only to joint decision making for the children. Physical custody or parenting time refers to when the children will reside with each parent.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/27/2011
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    You are being fed a line... Hope you don't take the bait. One lawyer can handle the dissolution for both of you, but he or she will still be your husband's lawyer. There will definitely be a conflict of interest on his or her part if you and your husband disagree on anything. It is ludicrous that you were told that you could not speak to your husband's lawyer. You do not have one of your own, so how else could you communicate? You are one of the two parties to the litigation/divorce. Of course you can speak with him or her! How stupid. You emphatically do not want to use your husband as the go-between, particularly since he, and possibly his attorney, are lying to you. The whole thing about who is at the house is just an effort to control you and not let you have your friends/boyfriend around. Do not believe anything your husband says. Make an appointment with the Family Law Facilitator at your local court house. Take advantage of whatever services you can find. What is the hurry? You cannot regain single status for six (6) months, anyway. Check everything you are told with the Clerk's Office or call an experienced, local attorney for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/27/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    No. Not under any circumstances is that ethical. You should stay far away from any attorney who suggests otherwise. However, if you do not have your own lawyer you are representing yourself and, not only can your husband's lawyer talk to you without being a conflict of interest, he is required to communicate directly with you just the same as he would have to communicate with your lawyer, if you had one. Just remember, he can't be your attorney too, so remember his opinions will be what he believes best for your husband - not for you.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/27/2011
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
    The rule is, at least in Washington, where I practice, that a lawyer cannot represent both parties in a case. What sometimes happens in a divorce that is completely agreed, a lawyer represents one of the parties and drafts up all of the papers, and the other party represents themselves. If you truly cannot afford an attorney, probably the best advice I could give you would be to get a book on divorce specific to your state. There are a number of them on the market.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/27/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    No. Do not waive the incipent conflict of interest. No matter how fair the attorney may thing he/she isbeing, there is always some prejudice in everyone and someone always winds up with a question in theback of their mind about whether they were treated fairly or not if one lawyer represents you both. As for the initial fee, many matrimonial lawyers will consult with you for free initially and then seek payment from the moneyed spouse later during the proceedings. While he my sound confusing, it is likely because he is trying to find his way through all this as well and he's not telling the truth all the time. Speak to at least three lawyers if you can. You have a right to have your legal fees paif for by him - regardless of what he may tell you. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/27/2011
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
    You really need to speak with a family law attorney before you sign anything. It sounds as if he is trying to trick you into giving up valuable rights that you might be unable to get back. And there is no reason why you can't talk to his attorney. If you are unrepresented and he is represented, then the attorney should be dealing with you directly (just like they would your attorney). And yes, if you are in complete agreement on everything, the attorney can draft the paperwork for both of you to sign. However, again, I can't stress strongly enough that you need to discuss your situation with an experienced family law attorney before you agree to or sign anything.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/27/2011
    Horizons Law Group, LLC
    Horizons Law Group, LLC | Michelle B. Fitzgerald
    One lawyer can assist you both with the paperwork. But it sounds like his lawyer is already representing his interest only, so the lawyer is declining to be a "neutral" party. You do need to review and carefully read anything he draws up - and suggest changes. It is not true about the custody/placement issue. You should have joint custody and then just need to spell out the plan for the placement of the children - which should be more to you if you have been the stay at home mom. It should also call for child support to you and probably maintenance since it sounds like he earns more money than you do.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 6/27/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    One lawyer cannot represent both of you unless you have no conflict of interest and with a divorce, nearly every line can be written in the favor ofone ofyou over the other - sohow canone lawyeradvise both of you. Sloppy and I consider unethical attorneys will represent both sides. Mediators, who are neutraldo not represent either of you and mayprepare the paperwork but that is dangerous. The cheapest way for you to get protection is to let your husband's attorney prepare and propose something and you take it to a different attorney for reviewand advise only. This is called unbundled legal services. You then pay only for the time in front ofyour lawyer. Two hours or less probably. You can start by getting a few free consultations and asking about "unbundled legal services." If the lawyer doesn't do that, move on. If a lawyertells youhe/she can represent both you and yourhusband, run away and report him/her to the bar.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/27/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    A lawyer CANNOT represent both parties in a divorce. A lawyer who does that can expect to be disbarred. Under NO circumstances should you talk to his lawyer or sign his papers without you talking to a lawyer. A consultation is very cheap so there is absolutely no reason to not do so. If your children matter to you at all, you cannot afford to risk losing them over money. So do what you have to do to get counsel. And do it quickly.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/27/2011
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