The process of divorce is rarely easy. While some cases may be more complex than others, disentangling the lives of two people joined in marriage will always involve at least some challenges along the way. Most individuals who are considering a divorce recognize the importance of hiring an attorney to assist with the process, but many are often unsure if retaining a second lawyer—one for each spouse—is worth the added costs.
Is a Lawyer Required?
It is important to understand that there are no requirements in Illinois law for the parties in a divorce to hire an attorney. A person is within his or her rights to navigate divorce proceedings pro se—a Latin phrase that means “on one’s own behalf.” Going through a divorce without a lawyer, however, is not recommended, even if your spouse has also agreed to forgo representation. Your divorce attorney can help you avoid costly mistakes in your divorce in addition to taking care of all of the necessary paperwork that the process requires.
Sharing an Attorney
You may have heard from friends or colleagues that it is possible for both you and your spouse to use the same lawyer for your divorce. While a divorce proceeding may only include a single attorney, the attorney can only legally represent one of the spouses, even if the divorce is amicable. This is because the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct—a code of ethics that govern the practice of the law in the state—provides that an attorney may not represent a client if such representation “involves a concurrent conflict of interest.”
During a divorce, the two spouses are, technically, on opposing sides of the case. A gain for one spouse is, for the purposes of the Rules of Professional Conduct, a loss for the other. This means that the interests of each spouse are in conflict with one another and one attorney cannot formally represent both parties. In very limited situations, it may be reasonable for one spouse to hire a lawyer while the other proceeds pro se, but caution is highly advised. If disagreements arise and cannot be resolved, the spouse without a lawyer should hire one immediately.
Let Us Help
At our law firm, we understand that in many divorce cases, finances may be limited, and we do not believe that money should ever be wasted. We also believe that hiring an attorney is an investment in protecting yourself in your future. To learn more about how we can help with your divorce, contact one of our experienced Kane County family law attorneys. Call 847-426-1866 or 630-945-8807 for a confidential consultation today.