You and your spouse are committed to an amicable divorce. You’ve managed to reach the point where you accept that you’re simply better off as friends and co-parents than as a couple – and you want to make your divorce as simple (and inexpensive) as possible.
You’ve even managed to agree on the big issues, like support and custody. So, why can’t you just use the same attorney as your spouse?
Your attorney would automatically have a conflict of interest
Even if you and your spouse don’t feel particularly “adversarial” towards each other at the moment, a legal proceeding like a divorce is still an adversarial process.
The American Bar Association’s Code of Ethics requires attorneys to zealously advocate for their clients, and they cannot do that when they have two clients who are opposing parties in an action. That creates a conflict of interest.
Even if you and your spouse are 100% in agreement today, there’s no guarantee that will remain true tomorrow – and that would put your attorney in an impossible spot.
If, for example, your spouse decides that they don’t want to pay quite as much spousal support as you initially agreed or you decide that you actually need support a little longer than you originally thought, your attorney simply cannot represent both of your positions at once.
Hiring separate attorneys doesn’t mean you have to fight
Even with separate attorneys, that doesn’t mean that you and your spouse are headed toward conflicts. You both still have tremendous amounts of control over this process – so if you both want the divorce to remain amicable, it will.
Having two sets of eyes on your divorce agreement simply means that you will both be apprised about all your legal options and have someone there to make sure that you aren’t unwittingly getting a bad deal – so this rule exists solely to protect you.
Divorce can be a difficult time, but it doesn’t have to be filled with conflict. Even if you and your spouse do hit a snag, there are alternatives to litigation like negotiation and mediation to consider.