Should my spouse and I use the same lawyer for our divorce?

Many spouses that are facing a divorce want to keep things as amicable as possible, and they often try to do this through using the same attorney. But having the same attorney is not an option. The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct prevent one attorney from representing opposing parties to the same lawsuit. At the most basic level, a divorce is a lawsuit between the two spouses.

But, there are other options. It is possible to get a divorce without any lawyers–both spouses represent themselves, commonly called a “pro se divorce”. Another option is to use what is called Collaborative Family Law. In Collaborative Family Law, the divorce process is accomplished through voluntary settlement procedure rather than Court action. Although this option sounds attractive, it has many conditions and rules that make impractical for most divorces (and worthy of an entirely separate blog post on this issue here).

It is also possible for one spouse to have an attorney but the other spouse not to have an attorney; thus, the divorce is accomplished with only one attorney involved. If you are in this situation, you have to understand the nature of the attorney-client relationship. The attorney has a duty of confidentiality to only one of the spouses. Likewise, the attorney only has a duty to advocate for, and provide legal advice to, only one of the spouses. That puts the unrepresented spouse into a precarious position of possibly being taken advantage of by the spouse who has a legal advocate on their side.

A divorce is one of the largest, and often most painful, events of a persons life. Because of that, it is almost never advisable to go through a divorce without an attorney on your side who can help you understand your legal rights and the implications of all of the decisions that have to be made to finalize the divorce.

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