The divorce process can be expensive. Many couples may be searching for ways to save money, especially if they generally agree on the terms of the split. If you and your spouse are one of those couples, you might be wondering if it is a practical idea to use the same divorce attorney.
The short answer is “No.”
If you hire a lawyer to represent you in your divorce, rules of ethics and professional conduct prohibit him or her from representing your spouse as well – as your spouse’s interests are legally in direct conflict with yours. Even if it were allowed, it is a bad idea. Your attorney should be looking out for your best interests, and your best interests alone.
Five ways to expedite your divorce planning
If you are genuinely concerned about the costs associated with your case, there are some steps you can take to make the process move more efficiently.
- Sit down with your spouse before seeking legal counsel. If you and your spouse are on amicable enough terms to consider using the same attorney, the chances are good that you can sit for a few hours and talk about which items you want to keep, which you will sell, and how you would like to proceed with your Parenting Plan, if you have minor children. The more information you bring to the table, the less time your lawyers will need to spend negotiating on your behalf.
- Consider working with a mediator. If you and your spouse cannot agree to all of the terms of your divorce, consider working with a third-party mediator to help you work through the more difficult negotiations. While we would not recommend doing this without having first retained counsel, should you go this route, make sure it is part of the plan to present the findings to your individual attorneys once mediation is complete.
- Work with outside experts if you need help. It may seem counterintuitive, but working with financial experts to get an accurate assessment of your assets, holdings and debts can actually save you time and money. Our firm regularly employs these professionals to assist our clients, but you can work with your financial adviser on your own.
- Be honest during every part of the divorce planning process. If you exchange information freely and willingly, you can save both time and money by avoiding a lengthy discovery process.
- File under grounds of mutual consent. Once you are ready to move forward, you can file for mutual consent, which eliminates the 12-month waiting period. This option is only available to you if you and your spouse work out every detail of your divorce, including alimony, asset division and the Parenting Plan, if you have minor children.
If you are going through a divorce, talk to the attorneys at Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC. We can answer your questions about mediation and divorce agreements, and any other family law concerns you may have. To reserve a consultation at our office in Annapolis, please call 410.921.2422 or fill out our contact form.