Can We Share a Lawyer?

Divorce frequently starts with the promise of remaining amicable and civil, which is always good. Couples can contain emotional and financial damage when they work cooperatively during the course of divorce. Spouses intent on remaining collaborative often inquire if they can share one lawyer. The short answer is, technically, “no”. As a court rule, only one spouse can be formally represented by one lawyer if there is divorce action pending.

However, there are a few options where the net effect is still working with one lawyer. First, parties can opt to not file a divorce action right away when they decide to get divorced. They can decide they want to mediate their settlement agreements regarding their financial and custody arrangements. In that case, a mediator, who may have a law license, can work with both parties. Neither spouse is “being represented” since there is no actual lawsuit pending yet. Once the settlement is complete, one party must obtain a different lawyer to commence the action and enter the agreements with the court. The other party may wish to obtain counsel to oversee that process and review the agreement (that is encouraged) but it would not be absolutely necessary.

This dynamic only works in cases that are “uncontested” or have relatively few issues. If the parties cannot trust each other or have disputes that warrant court intervention mediation may not be appropriate. In the cases with full agreement and trust, each party is urged to have separate counsel so he and she each understand what rights they have and may be waiving under the law.


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