Conflict of interest is a huge problem when you attempt to research divorce lawyers. While you may want to save money, there are factors you must consider that could actually translate into a conflict of interest on the part of the lawyer. A reputable divorce lawyer will recognize these red flags and recommend someone else to handle your case, but in case that doesn’t happen you need to be aware of some instances that actually constitute conflict of interest. In these cases you need to find someone else to represent you:
- The lawyer has represented you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse at any point during your marriage.
- The lawyer is a family friend of you and/or your spouse.
- The lawyer is a member of the ex-spouse’s family.
- The lawyer works for someone in your spouse’s family or represents your spouse’s employer.
- The lawyer is representing your spouse either in the divorce or another matter that might be related to the divorce.
One place some couples try to save money when hiring divorce lawyers is attempting to use the same one. Even if the divorce is amicable, and you have your agreement worked out, the lawyer should not ethically represent both of you, and any reputable divorce lawyer will refuse to do so. This is also true of a lawyer who has represented you in any capacity throughout your marriage other than perhaps the closing on your home. Conflicts of interest are one of the easiest ways to overturn a decision of the court, and you may end up with a settlement that is not in line with what you were seeking in the end.
Another possible conflict of interest is the divorce lawyer who is also a friend of you and your spouse. In this case you are asking the lawyer to choose sides, and while there are some people who are able to separate personal from business, divorce lawyers do not like to do this nor should they be asked to do so. If you have a friend who is a divorce lawyer you should ask him or her to refer you to someone who is able to handle your divorce. In fact, you should actually avoid family members as well since it is likely this may create an uncomfortable situation after the divorce-an unhealthy situation if there are children involved.
The easiest way to avoid conflicts of interest when choosing divorce lawyers is to choose someone to whom neither you nor your ex-spouse has any connections. In other words, do not choose family friends or relatives on either side of the family, any lawyer you have used in the past as a couple and no lawyer that is connected to the ex-spouse’s employer. The more precautions you take to avoid conflict of interest the more likely it is that both of your divorce lawyers can work together to come up with an agreement that is satisfactory for both parties in the divorce.