Can A Divorce Lawyer Represent Both Parties? – About Mediation and Representing Yourself in the Court

The simple answer is no. An inherent conflict of interest will always exist, so it is neither possible nor ethical for one lawyer to represent both parties in a divorce.

Divorce mediator and divorcing couple

It’s a common question we receive. People want to know “Can a lawyer represent both sides in a divorce?” On the surface, it may seem as though there would be no conflict of interest with this, so long as parties are on relatively good terms and are willing to work together collaboratively. Unfortunately, divorce is more complex than it may seem on the surface, and a conflict of interest will always exist. 

As a result, no single lawyer can represent both parties in a divorce. The reason why is best illustrated by this example:

A husband and wife have decided to divorce and have agreed to the terms of the division of their property. In their conversations, they have agreed that the husband will stay in their house and refinance it when he is able. No time frame is established for the refinance. The husband really wants the house and is unable to refinance now because of poor credit.

If one attorney were trying to represent both spouses in this case, he or she would be caught in an impossible quandary. If the attorney explained to the wife that this deal would make it impossible for her to get financing for a new home, she might reconsider the deal thereby angering the husband. If the attorney advises the husband that if he goes through with this deal that he would in essence become a real estate “partner” with his wife following the divorce and that she could force the liquidation and sale of the property, he may change his mind about the deal, thereby angering the wife.

This is just one example of how trying to serve as one attorney for two parties with differing interests is neither possible nor ethical. 

Alternative Options To Help You Through Your Divorce

There are alternative options for spouses who are on relatively good terms and want to manage the cost of their divorce. Mediation, or Collaborative divorce, allows parties to work with one another to resolve their differences with the help of a neutral third party. This may also prevent a divorce case from needing to go to court, again saving time and money.

If you’re looking for a family lawyer who can assist you with divorce mediation PA, we can help.

Using A Lawyer As A Divorce Mediator

With the assistance of a mediator, most matters can be resolved outside the courtroom. Couples meet with a neutral third party mediator to resolve their issues such as child custody, support and alimony, equitable distribution and all other divorce and family law issues.

Because mediated cases aren’t controlled by the courts, you can develop creative solutions that best meet the needs of your family. Mediated cases are a cost effective option because they eliminate much of the needless expense associated with litigation.

Pros Of Using A Divorce Mediator

When using an experienced third-party mediator, divorcing spouses are better able to take a fair and balanced approach toward finding a solution. The pros of using a divorce mediators are as follows:

  • Less costly
  • Amicable and respectful
  • Solution oriented
  • Less time consuming
  • Reduces need for litigation

Cons Of Using A Divorce Mediator

Because of the nature and intent of mediation, there are no real cons or drawbacks to consider. It’s designed to get parties working together, and working toward the same goal. If mediation does not resolve the issues at hand, the parties can use the courts to resolve their issues, though this is only used when absolutely necessary.

How to Represent Yourself in a Divorce Court?

Some spouses may feel like they’re capable of representing themselves in a divorce instead of using a family law lawyer. But there are many challenges and risks that come with doing this. In order to determine whether you can represent yourself effectively, consider these pros and cons.

Pros Of Self-Representation

The pros of representing yourself in your own divorce are fairly limited. People often choose this route because they believe it may save them money. In reality, rarely does it do so. In fact, in can end up costing more money, the loss of assets, the loss of income or the responsibility for debt. This can occur because people who represent themselves don’t have adequate knowledge of the law or the legal process required by the court. 

If you do choose self-representation, you will need to learn the laws and rules that apply to your case, understand how to prepare for and act in court, attend all hearings, and make sure all your written submissions and other paperwork are properly completed. This can be overwhelming and frustrating — especially when the paperwork is rejected by the court because it fails to follow the rules of court or the requirements under the law.

Cons Of Self-Representation

The list of cons when it comes to self-representation is much more expensive than the list of pros. Here are the main reasons why you may wish to seek professional representation:

  • You may not be able to meet all the technical requirements of your case.
  • If you do not follow all the required court procedures, your case may be dismissed or the other party could win their case against you.
  • You need to quickly gain legal knowledge of any laws or rules that apply to your case.
  • You are responsible for completing and submitting all your own paperwork.
  • You must be able to clearly and accurately express your ideas and thoughts and demonstrate to the court how your desired outcome is provided for under the law.
  • You may have to go up against a professional lawyer with more knowledge and experience than you, should your spouse choose to hire one.

If you are not prepared to take on the risks and challenges of self-representation, you should consider representation by an experienced divorce lawyer. 

Contact Colgan & Associates today to schedule a free telephone consultation. One of our family law attorneys or professional mediators would be happy to further discuss your matter. Call us at (717) 790-2048

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