Can A Couple Hire The Same Lawyer For A Florida Divorce?
Divorcing couples often want to use the same lawyer when they believe they have worked out a agreement between themselves. Sometimes, couples want to use the same divorce lawyer to save on costs. If you and your spouse are planning on getting a divorce, you might be wondering if the two of you can hire the same lawyer for your divorce.
So can you and your spouse hire the same lawyer for your Florida divorce? In most cases, spouses cannot retain the same divorce lawyer; however, if you have an agreement and your case is uncontested, one attorney can help you both navigate the process. Even though the attorney will only represent one client and can only advise one client, the attorney can assist both parties with the preparation of pleadings, the filing of documents and the scheduling of final hearing.
Conflict of Interest
Otherwise, even if spouses have worked out a mutual agreement, they are considered opposing parties when the divorce is filed. Because of this, it is a conflict of interest for one divorce lawyer to represent both sides. This is why only one party can be the client, even for uncontested matters. Otherwise, if a couple was permitted to both hire the same attorney, an unforeseen disagreement could arise which places the parties at opposing positions, and then, a conflict of interest would be created. Further, if this took place, the attorney might be caught up in an ethical dilemma. Certainly, it creates a question as to who the client is and where the attorney’s loyalties lie.
Choosing Not to Hire a Lawyer
Before deciding to represent yourself in your divorce case, you need to take time to think about the risks that come with self-representation. If you are in a simple divorce, where you and your spouse have agreed on everything, there is little or no property to divide, no joint debt, and no children, there might be little or no problems if you are unrepresented. On the other hand, if you are in a more complicated situation, for example, if there are marital assets and liabilities that are subject to equitable distribution, you will be at a disadvantage if your spouse hires a lawyer while you don’t. Your spouse’s lawyer will be acting in his or her client’s best interest and will do everything in his or her power to ensure your spouse gets the best possible outcome. If your spouse has an attorney in a contested case, it is important to hire your own attorney to protect your interests.
Uncontested Cases Handled by One Attorney
Again, as noted herein, for uncontested cases, one party can hire an attorney who can provide forms and assist both parties in filing all pleadings and other documents. In that instance, the attorney has one client to whom he/she is obligated. It is the best practice to prepare the appropriate Acknowledgement, to be signed by both parties, acknowledging this arrangement and the full understanding and acquiescence of both parties to the arrangement. Many divorcing couples choose this option because it saves time and money and because it avoids the acrimony and other difficulties involved in a high conflict divorce.
In sum, when divorcing it generally the best practice to hire your own attorney to ensure you are protected with regard to all pending issues. Alternatively, if you have a simple case and/or or a full agreement with which you are both happy, you can decide to have one spouse hire counsel to assist with an uncontested divorce. Either way, consider all the matters herein when making the decision.
Contact a Jacksonville Divorce Lawyer
If you are facing a divorce in Florida, contact our Jacksonville divorce lawyers at The Lasky Law Firm for legal guidance.