Can The Same Lawyer Represent Both Parties In A Texas Divorce?
Sometimes marriages just don’t work out. When a couple still gets along well and can agree on the important components of their divorce, it’s natural for them to expect to save money by using the same attorney to draft their agreement for them.
Unfortunately, you can’t use the same divorce attorney in Texas, even in an uncontested divorce.
What Does A Texas Divorce Accomplish?
A divorce means more than just the termination of a marriage. It’s a lawsuit that divides marital assets, determines the rights and responsibilities of each parent in regards to child custody and visitation, and establishes child support obligations.
The role of a family law attorney in the above is to protect the best interests of their client. What works in one spouse’s favor will probably not work for the other, so it’s easy to see how a lawyer representing both parties would face a conflict of interest. Even though the parties might think they have agreed amicably on all big decisions, their lawyer could bring up a new issue or determine that something benefits one party over the other, which could lead to an ethical dilemma for the attorney.
For that reason, Texas does not allow one divorce attorney or family lawyer to represent both spouses in a divorce.
Can The Parties Save Money By Having Only One Spouse Hire An Attorney?
It might go without saying, but if only one spouse hires an attorney, that attorney will only represent the spouse who signed the representation agreement. The judge is not there to give legal advice or guidance, so the spouse without an attorney (and the legal knowledge, experience, and guidance that comes with them) would be at a distinct disadvantage.
While only hiring one attorney can save on attorney fees and overall legal costs, the spouse without an attorney will not have anyone looking out for their best interests when it comes to drafting and signing the divorce agreement. Representing yourself in a divorce means you could end up with less property and/or additional child support obligations with fewer scheduled visitations allowed. You could even lose decision-making rights to your child.
Something that couples could do is work through mediation and then have a divorce attorney hired by one spouse draft their final divorce decree based on what the parties agreed to in mediation. Even in that situation, it’s still advisable for the attorney-less spouse to have the agreement reviewed by another attorney (for a flat fee) to ensure the agreement is not slanted in favor of the other spouse and that it accurately reflects the mediated settlement agreement.
Alternatively, I’ve seen some couples agree to have the non-client sign a universal waiver of service to avoid being served with a copy of the lawsuit by a constable or sheriff or via certified mail. This waiver can affect your rights concerning the divorce and other court proceedings by telling the judge you do not need to be made aware of court dates. Some even tell the judge they can sign whatever orders are presented to them by the other spouse without further notice to you.
We do not recommend signing a waiver of service if you have separate property, community assets, children from the marriage, or community debts. Otherwise, you risk losing your assets and/or your parental rights or assuming all of the marital debt.
Get The Legal Advice You Need In Your Texas Divorce With The Corcoran Law Firm At Your Side
We take a compassionate approach to family law matters. Our experienced divorce and family law lawyer will guide you through every decision affecting your marriage, children, and family.
You can count on us when you need an attorney for your divorce here in Texarkana, Texas.
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