LEO: Divorce Mediation/Domestic LE Op. 511
Divorce Mediation/Domestic Relations/Family Law.
April 28, 1983
Concerning the role of an attorney who is involved in the divorce
mediation process, in many cases it would be improper for an attorney to
attempt to render legal advice to both parties as to their legal rights
even if the attorney is paid by both parties since often it would be
virtually impossible to give such advise 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.
Moreover, so long as there is no contest concerning the property
settlement agreement between the parties, it would not be ethically
improper for an attorney to represent one of the parties in a subsequent
uncontested divorce proceeding, although the Committee suggests that
attorneys use caution in this area, make full disclosure to the parties
prior to accepting such employment, receive the informed consent of both
in order to avoid possible conflict of interest or the appearance thereof.
It is ethically permissible for an attorney to allow his name to be added
to the mediation center's list of approved attorneys.
Committee Opinion April 28, 1983
See also LE Op. 1368.