We had a couple contract with us after hiring an attorney to work with both of them. Their complaint was that after they paid the retainer, nothing was done on their divorce. They were in complete agreement, but the divorce went nowhere and they couldn’t understand why.
So they came to our company, and we dismissed the attorney and helped them obtain their divorce.
The answer is that you can both use an attorney in some states but other states do not allow it. According to Nolo.com (click here), you can both use the same attorney if:
- The clients agree on the major issues
- The clients are confident they can work out the minor issues
- The clients understand that the lawyer cannot fully represent both under the circumstances
- The clients have agreed to this in writing
- The clients just want the lawyer to do the paperwork
Well, if that’s the case, then why not represent yourself or use a legal document preparer or independent paralegal?
One of the problems in retaining an attorney for both of you is that the attorney may come across some issues and feel that you both need representation (even if you’re in agreement on what these issues are about) or they take the case and it just sits in their office as it’s not a top priority, or something else. The way the court system is set up is that divorce is an adversarial process and the attorneys representing you are trained to be adversarial, not to work with both of you to obtain a non-adversarial divorce. Also in some states ethical rules prohibit an attorney from representing both spouses in a divorce. So if you are in agreement, then either use an independent paralegal or a mediator to help you with the paperwork; otherwise, you may end up litigating or having your case not move forward. I believe that it’s so important if you’re in agreement; to me, that’s more important than a long court battle over something you may not even end up with or want. But, of course, you must make this decision carefully, and if you just don’t know what to do, contact one of our local offices, www.dwdignity.com, or find a mediator who can help you—make sure that they specialize in family law and that they do not represent anyone in court if they are an attorney/mediator—mediation should be their full practice.
The author of this blog is not an attorney and the information contained in these blogs should not be considered legal advice. The information provided here is based on the experience of the author and some of her clients whose actual names are not mentioned. Do not hesitate to seek the advice of an attorney if you have any legal questions.