A Lawyer Should Not Represent Both Parties in a Las Vegas Divorce
It is unwise for an attorney to represent both parties in a divorce action under any circumstances. An attorney should not accept the parties’ assurances that they desire no adversity or that there is an amicable agreement regarding the terms of the divorce. Experience has taught, however, that if there is any considerable property or minor children, the prospect of a subsequent dispute is significant. While not every court has issued blanket prohibitions against joint representation, the consequences of an attorney’s failure to recognize a potential conflict, to advise the clients of such a conflict, to obtain the informed consent of the client, or to advise a client to seek independent legal advice, can be the basis for damages, discipline, or having a settlement agreement set aside. Moreover, litigants to a divorce should understand that in virtually every case, one lawyer cannot adequately represent the interests of both parties.
Dual representation by a lawyer in a divorce, however, should not be confused with mediation. Mediation contemplates a neutral third party who will guide the parties towards resolving the dispute issues outside of litigation. A mediator does not represent either party but serves only to facilitate an agreement. A mediator does not offer legal advice and is not necessarily interested in whether an agreement is fair. The sole duty of a mediator is to assist the parties in reaching an agreement.