I am often asked if one attorney can represent both parties in a divorce action. A lot of individuals believe no problem would be created where the parties are on relatively good terms and have worked out many of their issues between them. However, an attorney can never represent both parties in a divorce action and cannot give legal advice to both parties. This situation presents an inherent conflict of interest. It is common for an attorney to be hired to represent a party and file an uncontested divorce wherein the attorney drafts pleadings that reflect the parties agreement. However, the attorney can only represent the moving party or the plaintiff in the action, which is the individual who initiates the filing of the complaint for divorce. If the other spouse proceeds to cooperate in the execution of pleadings drafted by the opposing parties counsel, they are acting as their own attorney or representative. It is greatly encouraged that at a minimum, the party not represented, should seek to have a consultation and obtain legal advice from their own attorney, by allowing an attorney to review the pleadings and guide them, prior to executing them. Executing documents may bind you and hiring an attorney in the future may not assist you in getting the agreement you signed changed and you may be bound by the terms of the agreement. It is imperative that you understand your rights and the risks of proceeding to enter into an agreement being unrepresented. It is always best to contact an attorney and ask questions before proceeding to act on your own.
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