Do We Each Really Need a Lawyer to Divorce?

In Minnesota, both spouses cannot be represented by the same attorney in family court. If only one attorney is involved in a divorce proceeding, that attorney is bound by legal ethics to represent only one client. This means that the attorney will be serving the best interests of her client only. The attorney will not be able to advise you on any matter. Where there is a disagreement between parties, such as an equitable division of property, the attorney will work for her client's best interest, even if the other party is not represented by counsel.

Collaborative divorce and mediation stress that couples work together when negotiating the terms of their divorce. It is in everyone's best interest for a divorcing couple to work calmly and collectively to reach their goals. However, this does not mean that the parties may share an attorney. Because there may be contentious issues, it is advisable to have an experienced attorney ready to work through the issues on your behalf. Even if the parties are all in agreement, it can help to both be advised of your legal rights. If a mediated resolution has been obtained, often there can be minimal legal fees incurred by hiring one "drafting" attorney and one "reviewing" attorney to finalize the papers for filing. In this way, you both can consult an attorney but you do not have to incur ongoing substantial legal fees for support through a litigated divorce.

It may seem financially more responsible to share an attorney or to go without one. However, being uninformed and unprepared for the decisions needed in a divorce may end up costing you more in the outcome itself (for example you may take on more debt or receive less support than you are legally entitled to). You may waive having an attorney for your divorce proceeding and represent yourself. This is a risky option, however, because you may not be fully advised of your legal rights and therefore may inadvertently reach resolutions that are not as favorable as they could be. Please see my prior post discussing the risks of divorcing without an attorney.

It is in your best interest to have an experienced, dedicated Minneapolis divorce attorney who will represent your best interests during your divorce.