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Family Law

Updated:

August 30, 2022

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Can a Lawyer Represent Both Parties in a Divorce?

Divorce can be costly. It’s common for divorce attorneys to hear spouses ask, “Can you share a divorce lawyer?” It certainly seems like a more cost-effective option than hiring two lawyers, especially in an amicable divorce.

However, two spouses using the same lawyer for divorce is illegal in the state of Texas. Read on to learn from Dallas divorce lawyers at Brooks & Radchenko why this isn’t an option and explore alternative methods for cutting legal expenses during a divorce in Dallas, Texas.

A Texas Divorce Lawyer Cannot Legally Represent Both Clients

Divorce Mediator

Divorcing spouses in Texas routinely ask, “Can a lawyer represent both parties in a divorce?” Although state laws differ, across the country it’s a general standard that two divorcing spouses cannot use one attorney for divorce. Although that might sound inconvenient, these laws exist to protect the rights of both parties.

Even when divorcing spouses remain on good terms, a divorce is considered to be a form of legal conflict. Using the same lawyer for divorce is an ethical conflict, and laws dictate that spouses must hire different attorneys.

However, there is some good news. You can opt for alternative dispute resolution with the help of a mediator.

A Divorce Lawyer Can Act as a Mediator

There’s a cost-effective alternative to hiring two divorce lawyers: Divorcing spouses can hire one lawyer to serve as their divorce mediator.

Divorce cases go to court when the spouses cannot agree on key matters covered in the marital settlement agreement. Common disagreements that result in a judge-mandated marital settlement agreement include:

When couples can agree on these terms, or they aren’t a concern, it’s unlikely that a divorce case will end up in a courtroom — and court proceedings are the primary reason why separate divorce lawyers are necessary.

Even when each spouse hires their lawyer, most divorces are settled through mediation. A practical way for two divorcing spouses to significantly reduce their legal costs is to recognize that they’ll likely settle through mediation anyway, and simply hire one divorce lawyer to serve as their mediator.

What Can a Mediator Do?

can you share a divorce lawyer

A mediator’s job is to serve as a neutral third party who helps two conflicting parties come to a legal agreement. Mediators handle a variety of legal situations, including divorce cases.

When two spouses divorce, the terms of their divorce must be drawn up in a marital settlement agreement. This document addresses a range of concerns that a divorcing couple must agree on.

While acting as a mediator, a divorce lawyer may:

  • Complete legal paperwork
  • Inform both parties of their rights
  • Explain relevant laws
  • Communicate with the court on your behalf
  • Draft a settlement agreement
  • Aid communication and conflict resolution

One downside to hiring a lawyer as a mediator is that they must remain neutral and cannot dispense legal advice to either spouse. However, when divorcing couples are in agreement about the terms of their divorce, they often find that there’s no need for the legal services of a divorce lawyer.

Choosing Simple Divorce in Texas

Divorcing spouses in Texas who can work together to agree on the terms of their divorce often qualify for simple, or uncontested, divorce. Simple divorce is often called “divorce the smart way,” because it makes the entire divorce process faster, more convenient, and less expensive.

There are a few important conditions a marriage must meet to qualify for a simple divorce in Texas. One condition is that there are no children and no division of property. Couples without kids who have straightforward financial situations are the most common candidates for a simple divorce.

Divorce proceedings begin with one spouse filing for divorce. Divorce papers are served to the other spouse, and a court hearing is scheduled. At this point, spouses typically undergo mediation to attempt to come to an agreement before going to court.

These steps are typical whether spouses have hired two separate divorce attorneys or one attorney is working with both as a mediator. When spouses agree, working with a mediator is the cheaper, more convenient option.

Why Both Sides Need Their Own Divorce Lawyer

Although most divorces are resolved through mediation, it’s still common for at least one of the spouses to want legal representation throughout the divorce. The primary reason for wanting representation is the peace of mind that comes from knowing your rights and finances are protected.

While a mediator will explain the law, they cannot offer legal advice. A mediator may not be able to point out that an agreement unfairly benefits one spouse, particularly if it could be considered dispensing legal advice.

If one spouse opts to hire a divorce lawyer, it can be tempting to save money by allowing that spouse’s lawyer to handle all of the legal aspects. However, only using one attorney for divorce is a big mistake.

A divorce attorney represents the spouse they were hired by. This means that if your spouse hires an attorney and you do not, your marital settlement agreement will be created under a lawyer’s watchful eye — and they’ll be watching out for your spouse’s best interests, not yours.

Types of Lawyers Who Can Represent You and Your Spouse in a Divorce

using same lawyer for divorce

There are a few different types of divorce lawyers who can handle a divorce in Texas. The most common option is a family law attorney. Since using one joint divorce lawyer

isn’t a wise legal move, each spouse should hire their divorce lawyer.

Lawyers who practice family law are typically qualified to help to divorce spouses with matters that include:

  • Filing for divorce
  • Completing legal paperwork
  • Court representation
  • Child custody
  • Alimony
  • Child support payments

For spouses who feel that the expense of two lawyers is unnecessary, opting for mediation with the help of a divorce mediation lawyer is likely the best option.

Finally, some situations may call for the services of a different type of divorce attorney. For example, if a couple’s reason for divorce is related to the need to file for bankruptcy, a bankruptcy lawyer may have the expertise needed for that specific situation and the legal technicalities that accompany such a divorce.

Important Things to Consider Before Hiring a Divorce Lawyer

For divorcing individuals wondering, “Can one lawyer handle divorce?” the answer should now be clear. You can opt for one lawyer to mediate your divorce, but you should always make sure that each spouse has equal legal representation.

If one or both spouses feel that hiring a divorce lawyer is the smart move, you’ll want to know that you’ve chosen an experienced lawyer. Not all divorce lawyers have equal dedication and expertise when it comes to defending their client’s rights.

When choosing a divorce lawyer in the Fort Worth area, questions to ask include:

  • How long has this lawyer been in practice?
  • Will they handle legal paperwork on my behalf?
  • Do they typically handle divorce cases?
  • What is their fee schedule like?
  • Are they familiar with the unique circumstances of my divorce?

Deciding on a mediator who is also a divorce lawyer comes with benefits. A divorce lawyer’s legal experience works to your advantage, ensuring all elements of your divorce are thoroughly attended to.

Need a Divorce Lawyer in Texas?

Brooks & Radchenko is a family law firm based in Dallas, Texas. We handle all manner of divorce cases, from simple to complex. Our top divorce lawyers have experience mediating divorce as a cost-effective way to end a marriage. We also help with the more complex elements of divorce, like child custody, child support, and alimony.

A divorce agreement brings legal and financial consequences for many years to come. When you’re looking for a top divorce law firm in Dallas, Brooks & Radchenko has the experience you need.  

Contact us today to discuss how our experienced Fort Worth area divorce lawyers can help with your divorce.

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