Can One Lawyer Represent Both of Us?

The cost associated with getting a divorce can be astronomical. Evan a fairly amicable divorce can result in significant fees if you are not mindful of what you ask of your lawyer. Lawyers get a bad rap in divorce, and there are undoubtedly some lawyers who’s billing practices are suspect, however most divorce lawyers are merely responding to their clients calls, emails, requests and legal needs. If their bills are high it is usually because their clients have not prioritized their needs and used their lawyer’s time judiciously.

Having a lawyer represent your interests in your divorce can be essential if you are unable to make mediation work in your negotiations. Even after a successful mediation it is highly recommended that you have a lawyer review your marital settlement agreement and provide you their advice. Your mediator will hopefully have helped you arrive at a fair settlement but your mediator does not look out for your interests; the mediator’s job is to help you settle not to make sure each party gets a “fair” deal. For example you may agree to something in mediation that is not common or is not quite 50/50 but you have done so for a number of reasons. Your mediator should have mentioned this, but maybe not.

In my own negotiations I was about to agreed to pay a certain level of alimony regardless of the circumstances; regardless of getting sick or losing my job or any other form of material change in circumstances. Our mediator did mention that this was not typical but did not advise me against this. When I went to my lawyer for a review of the document he strongly advised me against agreeing to this clause and explained to me how it could take everything away from me, including my children, if I happened to get sick and have no income. So you must get a second set of eyes on what you negotiate to protect yourself.

Ok, back on topic.

Having one lawyer represent the two of you means that the lawyer cannot really protect your interests as he has to protect both of your interests. The lawyer would end up acting more like a mediator as he/she could not protect both of you at the same time. You can agree to have one lawyer draft the documents if your mediator cannot do the drafting, which can save money, but do this only if your are proficient as reading legal documents.

Long, and rambly, way of saying not really.

The best thing you can do to keep your legal costs down is to manage your divorce. Developing a clear strategy outlining what you want and getting organized on the financial side will enable your lawyer to cut to the chase and present a settlement proposal to the other side quickly, reducing your costs.

I know I sound like a broken record on this point but this is what I do all day long and see the benefits of understanding your situation and having a plan.

Planning and being prepared is the best possible thing you can do as your prepare for your divorce.  Go to mediation and have your mediator prepare your parenting agreement or property or marital settlement agreement it will save you anguish and a bundle in legal fees

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