Here’s Why You Can’t Share a Lawyer in a Divorce

Thinking about filing for divorce?

Not all divorces involve people screaming at one another over who is more emotionally attached to the throw pillows. Despite what soap operas and Hallmark Channel original movies may lead you to believe, you and your spouse can agree to get a divorce because you realize that it is the best option for both of you. There might still be some arguments, but sometimes the simple acknowledgement that you need a divorce can make life a whole lot less tense. However, even if you work out a way to share the throw pillows, you can’t do the same with a divorce lawyer.

Some people considering divorce might think that hiring only one family law attorney for a divorce is a way to save time and money. This can be especially true if you’ve only been married for a short while and have no children. You might think there’s no point to getting two lawyers if you don’t have much to divide, and you and your spouse are on the same page about the house, the car and your incomes. Still, even if you have the textbook uncontested divorce, a single lawyer cannot represent both sides of a case, for both legal and ethical reasons.

A Lawyer Can Only Represent the Best Interests of One of You

Some states have laws explicitly banning attorneys from representing both spouses in a divorce, but even in places where laws like that do not exists, a lawyer cannot ethically represent both sides of a case. It might not feel like you and your spouse are on opposite sides in your divorce, but from a legal standpoint, you are. A family law attorney is supposed to protect his or her client’s best interests. In divorce, sometimes your best interests are different from those of your spouse. Just like you can’t play against yourself in chess and win, a divorce attorney cannot do what is best for two people at the same time.

You can’t get just one attorney, but you might still have options if you want to save a little time and money in your divorce. A divorce mediator is different than an attorney (although some lawyers, like our very own Jared Julian, are mediators, too). A mediator can help you and your spouse come to an agreement about divorce issues without giving legal advice. Once you have met with a mediator, it is possible for just one of you to hire an attorney, who can draw up all the legal paperwork for you. Just remember, that lawyer is legally obligated to protect only the interests of the person who hired him or her.