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24 Jul 16

Should a spouse’s attorney act as the mediator?

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Some couples going through divorce think about using a single lawyer for everything. This is often a mistake especially when that lawyer represents your spouse. The general rule is to not allow your spouse’s attorney to mediate your divorce although there might be a few exceptions. Here is what you should know about allowing your spouse’s attorney to act as your divorce mediator.

Reasons to Use Your Spouse’s Attorney

There are only a few reasons as to why you might use your spouse’s attorney as a mediator. The first is because you need to save money on the divorce. You will not have to hire your own attorney if you rely on the one your spouse has hired. The second reason is if nothing is in contention about the divorce that would require the help of an additional attorney. These are the only reasons that you should consider using your spouse’s lawyer instead of hiring an independent mediator.

Arguments against Your Spouse’s Attorney

There are some serious reasons why you should probably avoid having your spouse’s attorney be the mediator for your divorce. The first is that the attorney is ethically bound to look out for the interests of your spouse before you even during mediation. A second reason is that the lawyer is barred from providing you with legal advice. This means you will be at a disadvantage because no one is protecting your rights during the mediation process. A final reason is that you will never be able to fully trust the lawyer even if the person is ethically sound.

When This Might Work Out Well

There is really only one scenario where using your spouse’s lawyer as mediator will work out well. That situation is if you and your spouse have a very simple divorce. You must also have worked together with your spouse to basically figure out all the details of the divorce from division of assets to parenting plans. This scenario might work out because your spouse’s attorney will not be doing anything but writing up the final settlement agreement for everyone to sign. This still might be a bad idea because the agreement could contain things in complex legal language that you did not agree to previously.

When to Avoid This Idea

You really should avoid allowing your spouse’s lawyer to act as mediator for your divorce whenever possible. This is especially important if there are lingering issues that need to be worked out or negotiated. You should also avoid this if there is a large amount of animosity between you and your spouse. Steer clear of the attorney if you have a very complicated divorce that involves expensive assets, children or retirement accounts. It is normally best to never rely on the attorney of your spouse because that person is bound by counterproductive ethical and professional obligations even when acting as a mediator.

The Benefits of an Independent Mediator

The right course of action is to find an independent mediator for your divorce who is not tied to you or your spouse. The main benefit is that you can trust the mediator to be truly objective and fair. You will not have to worry about favoritism or ethical obligations to your spouse. Another benefit is that you can have your own divorce attorney during mediation to protect your rights and fight for your best interests. An independent mediator is almost always the smartest choice when going through a divorce.

This guest blog post was contributed by LG – a premier Chicago personal injury law firm.

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