Why You Cannot Share a Divorce Attorney

A divorce in New Mexico raises many questions for the spouses involved. For some people, questions such as “Will I get full custody of my kids?” or “Who is going to get the house?” become among the most important. For couples in a low-conflict divorce, however, one popular question is “Can we share a divorce attorney?” The quick answer to this is “no,” even if you and your spouse have already agreed on major issues such as child custody and the division of debts and assets before you signed the final divorce papers.

Sharing an Attorney Raises a Conflict of Interest

Even when you and your spouse agree on everything and neither of you are contesting the divorce, you are both still opposing parties in the legal sense. This means that if an attorney tries to represent both of you, he or she immediately has a conflict of interest. This presents your attorney with an ethical dilemma, and it can lead to serious problems down the road if you or your spouse end up in unexpected disagreements or in an unforeseen dispute in the divorce process. Sharing an attorney would have cost you more in the long run in this scenario, as you both would likely have to start all over with your own attorneys once the process stalled over a dispute.
If, for example, you both agreed that no spousal support would be sought in your divorce but then your spouse suddenly changed his or her mind during the legal proceedings, you would need to have an attorney on your side who is fully devoted to only your best interests. The same concept also applies to many other facets of a divorce, including custody matters, debt and asset division, and child support.

You Will Still Have Options

Even though both of you will have separate legal representation, that doesn’t mean you have to go to battle in the courtroom. You can still have a low-conflict and amicable divorce if you each hire your own attorneys. One avenue to accomplish this is by using mediation. Divorce is generally an intimate process that involves the best interests of both spouses and children, if you have any. Mediation is an alternate dispute resolution route that allows divorcing couples to work with each other over the matters raised in the divorce before they step foot in the courtroom.
Mediation, when it goes well, can offer a lot of benefits. It may “speed up” the divorce process, allowing you and your spouse to shorten the amount of time it takes to reach a reasonable settlement. It can also cut down on the time for legal process as a whole. It does not have to involve high conflict, as you will have a neutral third party there to help you reach an agreement. Last, but certainly not least, mediation will allow you and your spouse to represent your own interests while working toward a common goal.
You can both have your own attorney as you go through this process so you have someone on your side to offer advice, explanations and guidance. This is often recommended because the mediator has to remain neutral and cannot offer either of you legal advice.
It is also possible for your attorneys to negotiate any areas of disagreement without the need for going to court.  Speak to you divorce attorney about this strategy.