Is it unethical or against a legal code for her divorce attorney to advocate against reconciling our marriage? 7 Answers as of December 08, 2010

My wife and I are trying to work or marriage out and hopefully not follow through with the divorce. My concern is her attorney is telling her that compared to other men, I have only changed about 5%. And since we are trying to work things out my wife is holding on to his statement as a matter of fact. I do not want the divorce but this and other statements from him seem to me be biased and a conflict of interest. Not only is it untrue but how can he give such advice when he is not a licensed therapist or PhD and how can he assume what my level of change is? Especially when he has only spent about 1.5 hours with me. I have more concerns with these statements but this is mainly what bothers me. Also, if he does violate some code by doing this is there anything I can do? Thanks.

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John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
Your question requires far more information about the total circumstances before any kind of ethics opinion could be provided. The important part of that statement is the word "opinion". There is no clearly applicable "rule" that would answer your question and any answer is likely only to be one person's opinion. You could ask three different "experts" and potentially get three different answers. No competent lawyer considers it his/her responsibility to "advocate" what the client does or does not do, but there is clearly nothing wrong with your wife's attorney giving her his opinion about you or about what she should do. That opinion is likely based partly on the behavior you have demonstrated and partly on the attorney's experience in similar situations. So, even if someone else might have a different opinion, that doesn't mean either one is right. Unless there were some reason to believe that the attorney is influencing your wife with knowingly false information for some personal benefit, what he tells you wife is simply between him and her. She is paying for his opinion and it is up to her to decide whether she accepts it and what she does based on his opinion. Simply stated, an attorney has no legal or ethical duty to encourage or discourage reconciliation in a divorce case. Similarly, few attorney have, or think they have, the ability to do anything more than express an opinion about the likely success or failure of any attempt at reconciliation. Most divorce attorneys, in my experience, won't even start a divorce case until the clients affirmatively indicates he/she has decided that divorce is necessary. So, a lawyer's opinion about reconciliation are usually about whether to make a second (or third, or more) chance effort to try again something that has already failed at least once.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 12/8/2010
DiManna Law Office, LLC.
DiManna Law Office, LLC. | Dawn DiManna
I do not believe this behavior is against a legal code. As far as being unethical, it is borderline and would depend on other factors. You should speak to an attorney about the specifics to see.
Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
Replied: 12/8/2010
Cody and Gonillo, LLP
Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
Not that I am aware of.
Answer Applies to: Connecticut
Replied: 12/8/2010
441 Legal Group, Inc.
441 Legal Group, Inc. | Gareth H. Bullock
You can call the Florida Bar for assistance.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 12/8/2010
William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law
William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law | William C. Gosnell
No, Its not unethical. She is paying him money for his opinion. The fact that she has already gone to an Attorney is bad.

I always recommend A Priest, Rabbi, or Pastor as well as Marriage Counselors, Psychologists, etc. as a first option.

But you do not know if they discussed those issues or not because of the attorney client relationship.
Answer Applies to: Tennessee
Replied: 12/8/2010
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    I am afraid that the Attorneys code of Ethics does not address such issues and, as a result, it violates no ethical code provisions. Ultimately, it is up to your spouse to choose his/her own attorney. It is also up to your spouse whether or not to heed that attorney's advice.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 12/8/2010
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    Alas, attorneys are advocates, not therapists. It is not illegal or unethical for your wife's attorney to zealously represent (what he believes to be) her interests. I would suggest that you and your wife find a competent psychotherapist to co-counsel with, in an effort to repair your marriage.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/7/2010
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