Skip to main content

It is unethical for an attorney to urge their client to encourage a respondent to not seek counsel in a divorce?

Milwaukee, WI |

I am very close to a couple that is presently going through a divorce. He (listed as the petitioner in the proceedings) spoke to her (the respondent) and said that his lawyer urged her not to obtain counsel, as it would only increase the costs. Is this ethical? It seems wrong...

Attorney Answers 3


It sounds like you are a good friend. It really depends upon the context in which the statement was made, many times there are couples who have agreed upon most things and one attorney can handle the entire divorce, however that attorney may only represent the interests of the party whom hired him or her, unless the attorney was retained as a mediator. So you will first have to ask what happens if there is dispute will that attny step out or rep the interest of the husband, that is ok as long as everyone understsands and the wife is given time to retain counsel. However, if they are trying to leverage her lack of counsel into a more favorable divorce agreement slanted towards the husband then you are right. Take care and it is very kind of you to look out for your friend. She is fortunate to have you in her life.

Legal disclaimer: The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of Massachusetts. Responses are based solely on Massachusetts law unless stated otherwise.

Mark as helpful

13 found this helpful

6 lawyers agree


Saying that the costs depend on whether there iw litigation is completely fair. My guess is the attorney said something to that order. My guess is also that the client then expanded on what he was told to himself suggest her not hire an attorney.

That sort of thing happens all the time.

Mark as helpful

3 lawyers agree


I agree that this is something that commonly happens. I often hear from clients or prospective clients that their spouse urges them not to hire an attorney or tells them that they do not need an attorney. To me, that raises red flags as the motivation is not always saving attorneys fees. It is possible that they have a complete agreement and then a second attorney may be unnecessary. However, if she is uncomfortable at all about anything that is going on or if she has questions, she needs to consult with an attorney to discuss her concerns. Based on the consultation, she can then determine what his motivations really are. Good luck to her.

Mark as helpful

4 lawyers agree

Professional ethics topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics