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Can One Attorney Represent Both Me and My Spouse?

Requests for “dual representation” are common in a divorce proceedings. Many couples believe they share common interests and can come to terms on custody, support and property.For their convenience, and with the hope of saving money, they want to hire a single attorney. Although “dual representation” may be possible with the proper safeguards, it is generally a bad idea. This is because all divorce cases involve potential conflicts of interest, and even with appropriate waivers the attorney may be compelled to withdraw once the parties are no longer in agreement. Moreover, agreements that are made with “dual representation” may be more vulnerable to being set aside if “dual representation” adversely affects one side or the other. For these reasons many lawyers refuse “dual representation” in all cases. As an alternative to “dual representation”, the parties can employ a neutral mediator, usually a family law attorney, in an effort to expedite the settlement of their case. As a neutral mediator, the attorney is not counsel for either party and therefore not providing “dual representation”. The mediator can then provide the parties with a memorandum of their agreed upon issues which they can each take to their own respective counsel before a final agreement or judgment is prepared and signed.

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