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