Ask A Laywer: Is This Considered A Conflict of Interest?

Question:

My ex wife works for an attorney and has lots of connections. Our children had a law guardian appointed. I recently discovered that the LG’s brother is being represented by my wife’s boss in a fraud case. This now explains why the LG blindly supported my wife at every turn to the point where it was obscenely suspicious. The examples I can give would shock you and leave you suspicious.

Is this a conflict of interest that should have been disclosed from the very beginning?

I believe I have a strong case that shows extreme bias and prejudice. What can I do?

 

Answer:

Whether you can pursue the issue of the guardian’s bias will depend upon the stage of the proceedings and the role of the guardian in the final proceedings.  While the guardian’s opinion may be given substantial weight, the judge makes the final determination based upon all evidence presented and your attorney, assuming you are represented, may be able to present additional evidence in support of your position or can challenge the guardian for possible bias or prejudice on cross-examination. 

Absent a financial or other personal direct benefit from the outcome of your case, that the guardian is related to or socially connected with your wife’s employer is probably not a conflict of interest that required disclosure.   An extreme example would be your wife’s boss providing free legal services to the guardian’s brother in exchange for a favorable opinion. 

The more likely situation is that the guardian has certain perspectives or attitudes that should be known to experienced domestic relations attorneys in your area such that your attorney should have sought to obtain a different guardian, if that is an option in your jurisdiction.  The counsels, guardians, and judges involved in family law cases have their own considerations and discretion that impact how the case will proceed and which issues or evidence may be given more priority than others.  An important aspect of any domestic relations case is knowing all the participants, such that retaining an experienced domestic relations counsel is critical to having the necessary insight into the process in your jurisdiction.

 

 

 

Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.

Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues. 

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