Why Can’t a Lawyer Represent Both Spouses in an Uncontested Divorce?

Today I shot a quick video to review why I can’t represent both spouses in a divorce situation – even if it is uncontested.

Hey? Jim Hart here. I hope you’re doing well today from The Hart Law Firm. I thought I would do a quick video today this morning. I’m about to head out to a lunch meeting with a marriage counselor and I thought I’d jump on and do a quick video on why I can’t represent two spouses in one divorce. I get a lot of calls from people who are wondering if I can help them and meet with both them and their spouse if they have an uncontested situation. And while I would love to be able to do that, unfortunately the North Carolina Bar ethics rules don’t allow this.

Now, there are some exceptions that will allow us to do that in certain situations. But in general, it’s very rare. And the reason why it’s rare is because if somebody comes to meet with me with their spouse and they both meet with me I could be number one – providing or violating the ethics rules by giving them both legal advice at the same time. And number two – if things break down with them then I can’t represent either one of them in the divorce moving forward and that does happen from time to time unfortunately.

So, what we typically do in those situations, if you’re in an uncontested situation and you’re calling around trying to find an attorney that’s going to meet with you, chances are you’re not going to find an attorney that is going to meet with both you and your spouse.

What we’ll do is I tell the client that’s going to come in to meet with me to bring all the questions that they have including the questions their spouse might have and I can answer all their questions and then they can share that information with their spouse if they so choose. They don’t have to, they’re not required to do that and certainly everything that I talk to my clients about during that initial meeting or assessment is going to be private, but that’s one way to do it. From time to time I would allow our client to tape record that session and so they can go back and share that information with their spouse. I shy away from doing that, but I will do it from time to time in the right situation.

You may have heard of some people going to attorneys where they do meet with an attorney with their spouse. Typically this happens where there is a collaborative situation, in other words, you’ve got people who are interested in doing a collaborative divorce which I’ve got more information on my website about that. And in those situations the lawyer that’s meeting with both spouses is not giving away any legal advice. What they’re actually doing is educating them about the legal process. In other words what does the collaborative process look like? How is it going to work? How are you going to pay for it? What things are going to be discussed? Things like that, but they’re not actually giving any legal advice to the potential client or their spouse.

So, that is one way to do it. I am willing if people who are interested in doing a collaborative divorce may have not resolved everything on their own, I would be willing to meet with them to do that. But typically if somebody wants to come in and they’ve got a bunch of legal questions and they need me to answer them for them or they want me to review a separation agreement they drafted on their own, all those things, it’s gonna need to happen in terms of a, I lost my train of thoughts. That the problem with these live videos you lose your train of thought and it goes out the window.

Anyway that is gonna need to happen during a private divorce assessment and that’s the way we handle that. We do charge for those, we typically do them in one hour increments. And that’s pretty much it. So, that’s why we can’t represent both spouses in divorce. I wish we could represent both spouses especially in uncontested situations, but unfortunately the North Carolina Bar rules just don’t allow it.

So, if you got any questions feel free to reach out. You can visit us at jamesharstlaw.com/contact. Don’t forget to hit the button somewhere below here and subscribe to the videos and hit the little alarm bell so you get notified when we go live next time. Anyway, I appreciate you watching and have a great day folks. See you next time.