LEO: Multiple Representation - Divorce LE Op. 1112

 

Multiple Representation - Divorce: Preparation of Waiver of Notice

for an Unrepresented Defendant.

 

September 1, 1988

 

You have advised that 20-99.1:1 of the Code of Virginia, 1950, as

amended, provides for an interpretation contrary to the rule applied in

prior legal ethics opinions regarding preparing and submitting a waiver of

notice to an unrepresented defendant named in a domestic relations

lawsuit.

 

You wish to know whether the recent section of the Code of Virginia

changes former legal ethics opinions on this issue.

 

In the past, the Committee decided that it was ethically improper for the

complainant's attorney to prepare or file a waiver of notice, or answer,

or both, on behalf of both parties or the unrepresented defendant in a

divorce proceeding. Furthermore, it was ethically improper for an attorney

knowingly to provide sample forms of such pleadings for the defendant

which could be copied and used by the unrepresented party regardless of

whether or not the case was a no-fault divorce.

 

In light of the recent statute, the Committee opines that section 20-

99.1:1 of the Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended, would overrule LE Op.

535 and LE Op. 669. In furtherance, an attorney should be mindful not to

imply to the unrepresented adversary in a divorce proceeding that he can

represent both parties when, in fact, he cannot. The Committee also wishes

to emphasize that an attorney should be admonished against any

communication by said attorney to an adverse party other than the advice

to secure counsel or to correct any misunderstanding of the said

attorney's role in the matter. ( DR:7-103(A)(2) and (B).)

 

Committee Opinion September 1, 1988

 

CROSS REFERENCES

 

See also LE Op. 1326, and LE Op. 1344.