If you’re considering divorce, you’ve undoubtedly wondered what is the cheapest way to get it done? Could I have done this without the help of a lawyer? Do I need a separate attorney from my spouse or can one person handle the entire divorce? Dual representation is undoubtedly cheaper in the short term, but before you go that route, you may want to consider the implications of a lawyer playing both sides of a divorce.
Under the rules of professional conduct, a lawyer may make dual representation if both clients give informed consent and the client’s interests do not actually or potentially conflict. However, this rule is based on an attorney’s duty of undivided loyalty to the client, which may be difficult to assure in divorce proceedings. While many spouses initially believe they share common interests and can come to terms with issues of support, property division and child custody amicably, as the stress of separation sets in and the reality begins to develop- By the way, it becomes difficult to maintain the interests of husband and wife. General. If your differing interests develop into a conflict, you and the attorney will be stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Once a conflict has developed, the attorney may be able to obtain your informed consent to continue with representation, but this is a bad idea. The development of a conflict means that the proceedings are no longer fair, and as is often the case, will result in a short end to the husband and father’s settlement agreement. Therefore, when faced with a dual representation that may develop into a conflict, an ethical counsel should step back from the matter. Unfortunately, this will require both you and your spouse to find and hire new attorneys and pay those attorneys additional fees to expedite your case.
However, it is better to find a new lawyer than to remain in the lucrative alternative position of representing two conflicting parties. Continued representation of conflicting parties would result in compromise representation. Any agreement you sign will be void, and may not be enforceable by the courts. Indeed, in the case of Claim v. Superior Court, California set the precedent that a settlement agreement could be voided in cases where the attorney disputed the dual representation. It is better to have a separate representation in the beginning than to pay legal fees to fight the settlement which is canceled by the court.