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16 Jul 16

Is it a good idea for us to use the same lawyer?

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It’s hard to believe – but not all divorcing couples hate each other. Some, can, and do, work peacefully towards drawing up an agreement without ever going to court. They want to save money – and will use one attorney to answer their questions, and to draw up all the necessary documents. Depending on where you live, you can both use the same lawyer in a divorce. In some states, it’s allowed, while others it’s not. Even in states where it’s allowed – the rules of most bar associations prohibit it, due to conflict of interests. When you file for divorce, you and your spouse are considered opposing parties in a lawsuit. It’s unethical for one lawyer to represent both parties. An attorney cannot advocate for both sides at the same time.

Even when it’s allowed, it’s not a good idea. During the divorce, there are going to be points of contention. At those points, you’ll want an attorney on your side – advocating on your behalf. With just one attorney, it’ll be difficult. Fortunately, if you’re looking to save money and agree on most things, you can hire an independent paralegal to help you negotiate the various agreements, and file them in court.

Even if you don’t agree with your spouse, you don’t have to go to court. Many couples go to divorce mediators, who help them work out their differences. Many are often attorneys.  In divorce mediation, the mediators can work with both parties, due to the fact they are neutral. They are there to give legal information, and don’t take sides. Their role is to help both parties identify key elements – which could help further negotiations and a potential agreement. Once the agreement is created, a mediator will recommend each party hire an attorney for the purpose of reviewing the agreement – before it’s signed.

The job of a mediator

  • Help spouses understand the law, from an informational point of view
  • Help spouses fill out forms, and exchange disclosures and information
  • Help spouses identify their main contention points in the divorce
  • Help spouses come to an agreement on their differences
  • Help spouses draft settlement agreements

Everything discussed during mediation is confidential, so a mediator cannot be forced to testify in court. Mediators cannot take sides, or provide legal advice. If you and your spouse are on good terms, hiring a mediator can help save immense fees.

Can you ask your spouse’s divorce attorney in NYC for advice?

Your spouse’s attorney can’t give you any legal advice, and isn’t watching out for your interests. They are obligated to protect their client’s own best interests – not yours.

 

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