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Sharing an Attorney in a Texas Divorce- Is It Possible?

On occasion, couples visit our law office contemplating joint representation for an impending divorce. They’ve devised a strategy to resolve all outstanding matters and seek an attorney solely to initiate the process. Envisioning the attorney’s role as offering advice on specific issues, they plan to draft court orders independently. This raises the crucial question: Can an attorney represent both parties in a divorce?

On the outside, this seems like a nice plan. Lawyers, popular belief holds, typically muddy up the waters and make life more difficult for spouses who are entering into a divorce. What’s more- attorneys will charge you money in order to do so. The divorce would likely take longer as a result and take up more time that could be devoted to their family or other interests. With these circumstances in mind, spouses will come in and see if this dream can be their reality. Unfortunately, I will need to steer them out of this mindset for a number of reasons that we will discuss in today’s blog post.

Conflict in interest when an attorney represents two spouses in a divorce

If you and your spouse find yourself in a situation where you agree on absolutely every issue in your divorce then you are certainly in a unique position. Even the most amicable of divorces have a few issues that need to be sorted out before the case can truly be said to be done. Even in situations where you and your spouse agree on every or almost every issue you are still technically opposing parties in your divorce. Because of this, an attorney cannot adequately represent both you and your spouse’s interests.

With all of this said, there are still options available to people in your position who would like to limit the costs associated with hiring two attorneys in a divorce. First of all, you and your spouse can forego hiring two attorneys and have you or your spouse hire an attorney while the other remains unrepresented. The other is to have neither of you hire an attorney and instead utilize the services of a divorce mediator to mediate any outstanding issues that are relevant in your case.

Mediating your case instead of hiring lawyers

If you and your spouse would like, you can hire a private mediator to intercede into your divorce case and to help you and your spouse craft a settlement on any outstanding issues in your case. This means that issues related to children and property will all be settled in mediation- or will be attempted to be settled in mediation. A mediator will typically be a practicing family law attorney him or herself. The mediator will charge you and your spouse a set amount of money for either a half day or full day mediation.

The job of the mediator is basically to act as a ping pong ball- bouncing in between you and your spouse in order to help you both come together to come up with the specific terms that will create your final orders. If you and your spouse have a general understanding of what your custody/visitation agreement will look like for your children after the divorce a mediator will help you to create something that is specific and able to stand the test of time. Similarly, mediation aims to resolve all property matters. This includes determining who retains occupancy of the family home, the division of community estate assets between spouses, and any other related property issues.

Mediations will typically occur at the office of the mediator. You will be in one room while your spouse is in the other. Sometimes spouses will agree to be in the same room and to negotiate across the table from one another. From my experience this can be a tough atmosphere to negotiate in as a glance of the eye or a curl of the lip can aggravate/frustrate the other side.

The mediated settlement agreement

A Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA) is what you and your spouse will be negotiating for in mediation. The MSA contains all of the agreements that you and your spouse came up with and will act as the guide for whichever spouse ultimately ends up writing your final decree of divorce. He or she will take the MSA and turn its language into an order that a judge will be comfortable signing their name to.

Mediation and the MSA: Roles and Limitations

Your mediator will likely walk you through each item in the MSA and will make sure you understand everything contained therein. Usually, your attorney would do this but if you don’t have one the mediator can certainly explain the points of the MSA to you. However, he or she is not able to advise you on whether or not something is a “good idea” for you to enter into with your spouse. The mediator can refer you and your spouse to an attorney who can draft an order based on the language contained in the MSA but will not represent either you or your spouse.

While mediation incurs costs, these expenses are usually minimal compared to the fees associated with hiring an attorney and navigating a protracted family law case. On the other hand, you will not be able to receive any advice or pointers on what you are negotiating and you will not be able to rely upon your attorney’s years of family law experience in negotiating a settlement in your divorce case.

Texas divorce cases are most likely to end in mediation. The vast majority of divorces where the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC represents one spouse end in mediation. However, if you and your spouse cannot settle in mediation your options become somewhat limited. You have already exercised the most likely route to a settlement and have failed to reach an agreement. If you find yourselves in this position it is likely that at least one of you will now move to hire an attorney to represent your interests.

One family law attorney to represent you or your spouse

Another option available to you and your spouse is for one of you to hire an attorney while the other remains unrepresented. The represented spouse will be responsible for filing the divorce and drafting a final decree of divorce upon reaching a settlement. The main advantage this spouse will have is the ability to receive advice about the divorce process from their attorney. Having legal representation ensures that you have guidance on whether entering into an agreement on a particular issue is advisable. You would also know how a negotiating strategy could backfire or have unintended consequences for you years down the road.

In many situations, this is an arrangement that works out well for people. Our office has represented clients who are in basic agreement with their spouses on the terms of their divorce. The key thing to understand is that most attorneys are not looking to stir up trouble- on the contrary, these folks are more than happy to work on behalf of their client to resolve whatever issues are in play. It is usually simple, straightforward divorce cases where this method works out for both spouses in the divorce.

In conclusion, the prospect of joint representation in a divorce presents both practical advantages and ethical considerations. While couples may seek streamlined proceedings and cost savings through shared legal counsel, potential conflicts of interest and the need for impartial advocacy must be carefully weighed. Attorneys navigating such scenarios must prioritize transparency, ensure informed consent, and maintain confidentiality to uphold the integrity of the legal process. Ultimately, the decision to pursue joint representation requires thorough consideration of the complexities involved and a commitment to safeguarding the interests of all parties involved.

Questions about the different methods for completing a divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

Multiple methods exist for obtaining a divorce, just as there are multiple approaches to any task. Simply because a friend or family member pursued one method does not preclude you and your spouse from exploring other options.

If you’re considering starting your divorce proceedings, reach out to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We serve clients like you in our community and would be honored to assist you and your family. Our licensed family law attorneys offer complimentary consultations.

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  1. The Dirty Trick of Using the Same Divorce Lawyer
  2. The Dirty Trick of the Common Law Marriage
  3. The Dirty Trick of Getting Your Spouse to Leave the Marital Home
  4. The Dirty Trick of Fake Emails and Electronic Evidence
  5. The Dirty Trick of the Unenforceable Visitation Order
  6. Dirty Divorce Trick – Turning into a Temporary “Helicopter” Parent
  7. The Dirty Trick of Spousal Spying in a Texas Divorce
  8. The Dirty Trick of Embarrassing your Spouse During a Texas Divorce
  9. The Dirty Trick of Damaging, Destroying, or Selling Marital Assets in Texas
  10. The Dirty Trick of Filing for Divorce in Another City

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring Divorce Lawyer

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it’s important to speak with ar Spring, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.

A divorce lawyer in Spring TX is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, the firm wants to get to know your case before they commit to work with you. They offer all potential clients a no-obligation, free consultation where you can discuss your case under the client-attorney privilege. This means that everything you say will be kept private and the firm will respectfully advise you at no charge. You can learn more about Texas divorce law and get a good idea of how you want to proceed with your case.

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