It’s a question we hear often. If you and your spouse are parting on good terms and have an agreement on the issues involved, you might think it would be easier and more cost-effective to hire one divorce attorney to handle the court filings. Sometimes couples are afraid the situation will become adversarial if they have two lawyers facing off.
One attorney, however, cannot represent both clients equally–there is bound to be a conflict of interest. That is why Missouri and other states expressly forbid the practice by law. In Missouri, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct rule 4-1.7(a) states:
(a) Except as provided in Rule 4-1.7(b), a lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest. A concurrent conflict of interest exists if:
(1) the representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client; or
(2) there is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client, a former client, or a third person or by a personal interest of the lawyer.
A divorce attorney working exclusively on your behalf will know to ask questions you may not have considered–not to create conflict or to be adversarial, but to protect your interests. An attorney cannot protect both spouses’ interests at the same time as in a divorce, their interests are likely very different. If you and your spouse have an agreement on all the issues involved, it is always best for both of you to hire your own attorney to advise what is best for YOU.
However, it is possible for one spouse to hire an attorney to draft all of the paperwork memorializing your agreements and for that attorney to process the divorce through the court system. If you are the spouse without an attorney, be very aware that that attorney does not represent you and cannot give you any advice on whether the agreements you have made are in your best interest. This process is commonly referred to as the “Kitchen Table.”
With a combined 30 years in family law, the attorneys at Jones Family Law Group, LLC, will provide the legal guidance you need. Contact Jones Family Law Group, LLC today for any questions or to set up a consultation.
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