Here’s why I won’t meet with both you and your spouse!
It happens several times a week.
Someone will call my law office and want to set up an appointment with me to discuss separation or divorce, along with their spouse.
Our response is always the same. Sorry, no can do. We can only meet with either you, or your spouse, not both.
Typically, the caller is upset and confused at this response. No doubt thinking this is just a scam or conspiracy amongst family lawyers to increase profit margins.
Sadly no. Family lawyers are not that organized.
Actually, there are good reasons why this joint meeting can’t happen.
While meeting with the same lawyer seems like a great idea to save legal costs, both you and your have separate legal interests, even if you and your spouse have apparently already come to terms.
Here’s a simple example of what I mean.
Say that you are the spouse earning income while your spouse has been a stay at home spouse with no employment income.
Your natural interest, and position, is to attempt to limit the duration and amount of support, both spousal and child support.
On the other hand the natural interest and position of your spouse is to maximize the duration and amount of support.
This means if I give you, or your spouse, legal advice to advance your respective interests, I am not helping the other spouse.
This is called a conflict of interest. I can’t help one of you without jeopardizing the legal interests of the other, and breaching my professional duties as a lawyer.
So what are your best options?
Firstly, you and your spouse should meet with different lawyers to learn about your legal interests.
Secondly, knowing your legal interests you and your spouse can discuss a resolution, provided it can be done in a civil and respectful manner.
Thirdly, once you have come to terms, either you or your spouse can retain the services of an experienced family lawyer, like myself, to prepare a Separation Agreement.
Lastly, under no circumstances should either of you sign the Agreement without having a lawyer, not a notary public, take your signature, and complete a Certificate of Independent Legal Advice, attached to the Agreement.
This Certificate signifies that the lawyer has determined that the person signing fully understands his or her legal interests, the consequences of signing, and is doing so without coercion by the other party.
Without such essential assurances there remains the possibility that the Agreement can be set aside by a court in the future because of a lack of legal advice. Who needs that uncertainty?
So if you and your spouse are talking separation or divorce, call my office for an appointment.
You can invite anyone you like to join you, just not your spouse!