Can Both My Spouse & I be Represented by the Same Attorney?

In News by YKF Law

couple and attorneyIf you and your spouse have come to the conclusion that a divorce is in your best interest, you may be wondering if both of you can be represented by the same attorney. While it may seem convenient to be represented by the same layer, the short answer is no, you can’t both be represented by the same counsel.

Even if you and your spouse have decided to have a smooth divorce and have already come up with a plan on how to divy up personal assets and property and how you’ll share custody with the kids, you can’t share an attorney. It may seem less costly and easier to do so, however, you will either need to be represented by different attorneys or to save money, only one of you can be represented.

You’re probably wondering why it isn’t as simple as hiring one attorney and being done with the divorce process quicker than the average dissolution of marriage. Keep reading to learn exactly why you and your spouse can’t be represented by the same attorney and about some options to make the divorce process easier and less costly.

Why can’t we share an attorney?

So why can’t you and your spouse share an attorney? Simply put, it’s a conflict of interest. What exactly does that mean? A divorce involves two parties, each of which are technically opposing parties and a divorce lawyer can’t equally represent both of you in the lawsuit.

Furthermore, attorneys have certain ethical laws that we must abide by. We want to represent our clients to the best of our ability and wouldn’t be able to do so if we represented opposing parties.

Can my spouse’s attorney give me advice if only one of us is represented?

No, your spouse’s attorney cannot give you legal advice. Why? Because your spouse hired that specific attorney to represent them. You, as the spouse and opposing party in the lawsuit, cannot receive legal advice from the attorney who represents the other spouse. You will either need to seek representation by a different attorney, represent yourself, or seek legal aid assistance to assist you in preparing all of the documents you’ll need to file with the court.

What options do we have if we can’t afford two attorneys?

We understand that not everyone getting a divorce can afford to hire two attorneys and that’s okay – you still have options to make the divorce a more affordable one. You have the following options if both of you can’t afford to hire an attorney:

  • One spouse can be represented by an attorney
  • Mediation with a mediator or neutral attorney

Continue reading to learn more about the options listed above.

One spouse can be represented by an attorney

As previously mentioned, both spouses cannot be represented by the same attorney because it would be a conflict of interest. However, if you trust your spouse and you’ve come up with your own terms on how to divide personal property and assets such as finances or if you’ve agreed on how to share custody with your child(ren), you can choose the option of one spouse being represented by an attorney.

With that being said, it’s important to understand that the attorney who represents one spouse will be impartial to that particular party and will not have any responsibilities owed to the other spouse. Furthermore, the spouse who chooses to forego an attorney should read through their settlement carefully before agreeing to anything. While you do not need legal representation for a divorce in the states of Missouri and Kansas, if you represent yourself you’ll be at a disadvantage in comparison to the spouse being represented, especially if the divorce is contested versus uncontested. Therefore, it’s always best for both parties to hire a divorce lawyer.

Mediation with a Neutral Attorney

If both parties filing for divorce agree on most terms and conditions then it may be best to opt for mediation with a neutral attorney. Mediation is when a third party (an attorney or mediator) meets with both parties to discuss and resolve a dispute to avoid trial. This works best when the divorce is simple and both parties agree on a majority of the terms and conditions of the divorce.

Even if you and your spouse have agreed to an amicable divorce and still want to remain friends you’ll either need to do one of two things: hire a divorce lawyer to represent one spouse or go straight to mediation where you will meet with a neutral third party to come up with a settlement.

If you’re currently going through the divorce process and are looking for a family law attorney in Lee’s Summit or a divorce attorney in Kansas City, contact The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC. Our firm provides nearly all family law services like divorce, paternity actions, custody, visitation, and child support. 

While we can’t give legal advice until we establish an attorney-client relationship, we’d be happy to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. Call (816) 246-9981 to schedule your consultation today.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.