Can you share an attorney for a divorce?
One of the questions we often get asked, as a law firm that mostly consults family law, pertains to sharing an attorney for the process of a divorce. In one way or another, the question of whether Angela, or any other attorney, can represent two parties over the same legal issue crops up a lot. Filing for a divorce comes with a complex multitude of emotions, issues, and problems; in other words, it is an intricate, and typically, delicate issue. These issues that a client, or potential client, produces hooks itself onto the attorneys, bringing out our emotions and making them biased to one way the pendulum swings. For this reason, and for many others, sharing an attorney in divorce matters crosses an ethical line.
No matter if you claim peace and amiability for your divorce process, the law will regard your case as two opposing parties. In the Illinois Supreme Court Rules, it states: “A lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest. A concurrent conflict of interest exists if: (1) the representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client;” (Il. Sup. Ct. R. 1.7).
This rule clarifies that the opposing parties cannot be represented by the same lawyer because that representation will be adversarial. To be clear, there are divorce cases where there is only one attorney; however, the attorney is not representing both parties, rather one party has decided to proceed pro se. Pro se is a Latin term that signifies one party is representing themselves, on their own behalf.