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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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Should one spouse’s lawyer be used to handle the mediation?

By Spodek Law Group | July 27, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 14, 2023)

Last Updated on: 14th October 2023, 09:23 am

Should You Use One Lawyer for Divorce Mediation?

Going through a divorce can be an incredibly difficult and emotional time. You and your spouse have to make big decisions about how to divide up your assets, handle child custody arrangements, and more. It’s natural to want guidance during this process. But should you use one shared lawyer to handle your divorce mediation? Or is it better for each spouse to get their own lawyer? There are good arguments on both sides of this issue.

What is Divorce Mediation?

In mediation, you and your spouse work with a neutral third party called a mediator to try to reach agreements on the issues in your divorce. The mediator facilitates the discussion and helps you compromise, but they don’t make decisions for you. Mediation is typically less adversarial than going to court. It also gives you more control over the outcome. Many couples find that mediation allows them to get divorced more quickly and cheaply than traditional litigation.

Mediation can be done with lawyers or without them. Some mediators actually don’t allow lawyers to participate. The theory is that lawyers may undermine cooperation between spouses. But many mediators do permit lawyers, as long as they don’t take an overly adversarial stance.

Potential Benefits of Using One Lawyer

Here are some potential upsides to using one lawyer instead of separate lawyers for divorce mediation:

  • Saves money. Paying for one lawyer instead of two reduces legal fees significantly.
  • Promotes cooperation. Having a shared advisor may bring you and your spouse together instead of driving you apart.
  • Gets it done faster. With only one lawyer to coordinate schedules with, the mediation may happen more quickly.
  • Reduces complexity. Communicating through a single attorney is simpler than navigating interactions between two attorneys.

Having one lawyer guide you through mediation can be a cost-effective, cooperative approach. The lawyer is there to explain the law and offer advice, not ratchet up conflict. This neutral support can facilitate compromise and speed up the mediation timeline.

Potential Drawbacks of a Shared Lawyer

Using one lawyer also has some significant downsides to consider:

  • Ethical issues. The same lawyer can’t provide independent legal advice to both spouses or keep information confidential.
  • Power imbalances. The approach may favor the more powerful spouse, leaving the other spouse without personalized advice.
  • No advocacy. With one lawyer, neither spouse has a legal advocate promoting their individual interests.
  • Bad advice. A shared lawyer may pressure you to accept agreements that aren’t actually in your best interest.

The ethical rules governing lawyers simply don’t contemplate attorneys representing two opposing parties in the same matter. Expecting one lawyer to juggle duties to you and your spouse is problematic. And if there is any domestic abuse or power imbalance in your relationship, sharing an attorney could be very unfair and unsafe.

Alternatives to Consider

If you want legal guidance during mediation but don’t think one shared lawyer makes sense, look into these alternatives:

  • Consulting lawyers. Each spouse could consult their own lawyer for advice before and between mediation sessions.
  • Unbundled services. Each spouse could hire a lawyer just for document review or to attend some (but not all) sessions.
  • Collaborative divorce. In this process, each spouse has their own lawyer but they commit to settling out of court.

These options allow you to get personalized legal advice while containing costs and promoting cooperation. You don’t need lawyers at every step of your mediation. But having your own advisor looking out for your interests can give you confidence that any agreements you reach are sound.

Questions to Ask Before Choosing One Lawyer

If you decide to explore using one lawyer for your divorce mediation, here are some key questions to consider:

  • How will confidentiality work if we share information with the same lawyer?
  • What processes are in place to ensure no conflicts of interest arise?
  • How will our individual interests and priorities be represented?
  • What legal education and training does the lawyer have regarding divorce mediation?
  • How much experience does the lawyer have acting as a neutral mediator?
  • What are the lawyer’s ethical and professional responsibilities in this situation?

A lawyer experienced with divorce mediation should be able to clearly explain how they will manage confidentiality, avoid conflicts, and ensure fair processes. If you have any doubts, it may be safer to consult separate lawyers instead.

Weighing Your Options

Deciding whether to use one lawyer or separate lawyers for your divorce mediation is an important choice. There are reasonable arguments on both sides. To recap some key considerations:

Potential benefits of one shared lawyer:

  • Saves legal fees
  • Promotes cooperation
  • Speeds up the process
  • Simplifies communication

Potential risks of one shared lawyer:

  • Ethical problems
  • Imbalance of power
  • No individual advocacy
  • Bad advice

Every couple’s situation is unique. Assess yours honestly. If there are major trust issues or you have concerns about how your interests will be represented, separate lawyers may be the wiser route. But if you and your spouse have an amicable, respectful relationship, sharing an advisor could work.

At the end of the day, you need to be comfortable with the mediation approach you choose. Listen to your instincts about what will set you and your spouse up for the most fair, empowering, and successful process possible.

Consulting a Lawyer

Trying to sort through divorce options on your own can be overwhelming. For personalized legal advice about mediation and whether to hire one lawyer or two, consult with a qualified family law attorney in your state. Many offer free initial consultations.

Navigating divorce is difficult. Having the right legal guidance can make a big difference. Speak to a lawyer before deciding how to structure your mediation process.

With some thoughtful planning upfront, you and your spouse can set yourselves up for a respectful, efficient mediation. Work with professionals you trust. Ask lots of questions. And choose options that feel like the right fit. This will empower you to successfully mediate your divorce in a way that protects your rights and interests.

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