Articles from The Mediator
Conflicting Family Law Roles? Court Disqualifies Attorney
Family law clients can now choose among various forms of representation and mediation when receiving legal services. Given this, it is critical for family law practitioners to convey and maintain proper role definition.
Recently, a divorcing couple had interviewed an attorney as a prospective divorce mediator. After the couple decided not to use mediation, the husband retained the same attorney — but to represent him individually against the wife in the divorce. The wife did not consent to this representation, and asked the court to disqualify the attorney.
Citing Rule of Professional Conduct 1.12, the court barred the attorney from representing the husband against the wife because of the wife’s “strong perception that she had [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][in the interview] divulged significant personal information to [the attorney] regarding her position about a specific asset.”
The court was clear that it had no evidence that the attorney acted any way but ethically under the circumstances. But it was the client’s honest perception that a conflict was created which was ultimately persuasive to require disqualification.