Do I Really Need My Own Divorce Attorney?
When a couple is considering a divorce, the parties are often looking for ways to save money and to make the process easier. One of the most common questions that many couples have is whether they may be able to share an attorney for their divorce. While this may seem to be an ideal way to reduce expenses, there are rules in place that prevent one lawyer or law firm from representing both spouses in a divorce proceeding.
At its very core, marriage is a contract between two parties, which makes divorce a proceeding to dissolve that contract. This means that, technically, the spouses in a divorce are considered opposing parties. The fact that the spouses are able to work civilly together and have reached an agreement on most of the important issues does not change their status as opposing parties from a legal standpoint.
Rule 1.7 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct states that an attorney “shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest.” Such a conflict is presumed to exist if “the representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client.” In the eyes of the law, this is exactly the situation in a divorce case. Despite your commitment to working together, your interests are technically in conflict with those of your spouse.
There are ways that some couples will look to get around the conflict of interest concerns. In these situations, one spouse will hire an attorney and the other will go into the proceedings representing him- or herself—at least as far as court documents are concerned. Such an arrangement could potentially work if the couple really has thought of everything and just needs guidance with filing the appropriate paperwork. If there are unresolved issues, however, it is not advisable for either spouse to be without qualified legal counsel.
With this in mind, the better option is to retain the services of an experienced attorney from the very beginning. Your lawyer can help you address potential problems well in advance, which could allow you to save time and money throughout the process. An attorney will also make sure that your rights are fully protected along the way.
Call Our Office Today
If you are thinking about divorce, a skilled Geneva divorce lawyer can provide the guidance and representation you need to obtain the equitable settlement you deserve. Call 630-232-9700 for a confidential consultation at The Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates today.