Divorce is an expensive process. Spouses spend thousands of dollars on court costs and attorney fees in addition to needing to divide all of their property. Going through a divorce can make even comfortable middle-class families feel financially stressed.
Couples often try to find ways to reduce how expensive their divorces are. Some people try to file do-it-yourself divorces where they don’t involve a lawyer at all. There are numerous risks to this approach, ranging from a judge rejecting the settlement that you negotiate because it includes illegal terms to your ex railroading you by showing up to court with a lawyer.
Some couples will talk about sharing an attorney. That way, they know their settlement complies with state law but they don’t have to pay for the time of two different lawyers. Is it safe for you to use this approach?
No lawyer will be completely neutral
The reason both spouses need their own attorneys in a divorce is that each of them needs to have someone looking out for their best interests. When you don’t know the law and are under the intense stress of changes to your household, you might make poor decisions or get bullied into accepting unfavorable terms.
Your lawyer can tell you about state law and important precedent in cases with circumstances similar to your own. They can also help you negotiate with your ex.
A lawyer might try to be neutral when representing both of you in court, but inevitably they will have more sympathy or respect for one spouse over the other. This might mean that they suggest custody or property division terms that favor one spouse over the other. You have no way of knowing how the subtle biases of the attorney will influence the outcome of your divorce proceedings.
Your lawyer should be there to help you specifically
No matter how amicable you want to keep things with your ex, it is risky to assume that they have your best interests in mind during a divorce. Retaining your own attorney means that you have someone supporting you during the divorce process and focusing on what is best for you.
While sharing a lawyer with your spouse might cut down on the costs at the end of your marriage, it might also lead to you making concessions that do more harm than good in the grand scheme of things. Learning about how to protect yourself will make it easier for you to rebuild your life after your divorce.