LEO: Divorce Mediation/Domestic LE Op. 513
Divorce Mediation/Domestic Relations/Family Law.
April 28, 1983
Concerning the role of an attorney who is involved in the divorce
mediation process, the attorney involved in the mediation process would
represent the couple and not the divorce mediation process. However, in
many cases, it would be improper for an attorney to attempt to render
legal advice to both parties since often it would be virtually impossible
to give such advice in a completely non-partisan way.
However, where an attorney has undertaken to provide "legal information"
only, as opposed to "legal advice," the parties understand the distinction
between "legal information" and "legal advice" and have given their
informed consent for an attorney so to act, it may be appropriate in
certain circumstances for an attorney to provide legal information to both
parties, particularly, in uncomplicated and straightforward situations
where the parties are contemplating getting a non-contested divorce and
the marriage has been of short duration with little assets and no children
involved. Regardless of the situation, however, attorneys should be
advised to use great caution before agreeing to provide legal information
or advice to both parties, and should attorneys agree to do so, they
should be extremely careful to be as non-partisan as possible.
It would be ethically impermissible for an attorney to give legal advice
to the therapist who, in turn, would pass it on to the clients in the
mediation process since the attorney by doing so would be aiding the
therapist in the unauthorized practice of law in violation of the
provisions of DR:3-101. [DR:3-101, Virginia Code of Professional
Committee Opinion April 28, 1983
See also LE Op. 1368.