Divorce in Michigan can be quite expensive, causing many people to try and find any way to cut down on some of those costs. One of the ways people do this is to try and use the same divorce lawyer. If you are going through a divorce, you may have considered the same thing. Although one lawyer cannot represent both spouses during a divorce, there are times when only one lawyer may be necessary. Read on to learn when that is.
Rules on Ethics for Attorneys
Lawyers are expected to abide by certain ethical rules while they practice law. One of these rules is that an attorney cannot represent both sides during a lawsuit, and that includes divorces.
The reason for this is that an attorney is expected to work in the client’s best interests. If the attorney is working for both sides, it is impossible for him or her to be an objective advocate for either client. Even when two spouses agree on everything in the divorce, they are still considered by the courts to be on opposing sides. One lawyer representing both sides is considered to have a conflict of interest, which goes against the ethical rules for attorneys.
Mediation Using a Neutral Attorney
When couples decide to go through mediation to resolve disputes in their divorce, they will meet with a mediator, who is often also an attorney. This attorney, however, will not represent either side. Instead, his or her job as a mediator is to try to get the two parties to come to an agreement about all the terms involved in the divorce. It is important to understand that mediators do not give legal advice to either side. They simply try to facilitate compromise so an agreement can be reached.
During mediation, each side may still decide to retain their own legal counsel. When this is the case, the ethical rules apply, and the two parties cannot use the same attorney to represent them during mediation sessions.
Using Your Spouse’s Attorney
It is true that an attorney cannot represent both sides during a divorce. However, that also does not mean that both sides must have legal representation. If the two spouses agree to all the terms of the divorce, then only one attorney is really necessary to draft the settlement agreement. That attorney may be a lawyer who works for the other spouse. In this case, though, it is crucial that the spouse who is not represented understands that he or she cannot ask the spouse’s lawyer for legal advice.
It is also important to understand that one spouse’s attorney will not work in the best interests of the other spouse. The attorney will still be working for his or her client, and so, this situation is only recommended when the divorce is very simple, the spouse who does not have representation understands his or her legal rights, and that spouse is fairly happy with the settlement. Even then, it is usually advisable that each spouse retains his or her own legal counsel that will always look out for that spouse’s best interests.
Our Michigan Divorce Lawyers will Always Work in Your Best Interests
Anyone going through a divorce should speak to a Clinton Township divorce lawyer who can represent them and help them get the best settlement possible. If you are considering divorce, call us at Iafrate & Salassa, P.C., or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. We will always work in your best interests and ensure your rights are protected.