One Attorney Or Two

Cordell & Cordell, Dorothy Ripka of Cordell & Cordell, P.C.

This case is uncontested.  We are using one attorney.  My wife hired him.

First things first, an attorney can ethically only represent one person in a divorce.  One person retains the attorney, and is therefore entitled to the benefit of legal advice on divorce.  If your wife hires the attorney, then the attorney only owes an ethical obligation to her.  This attorney’s obligation is to advise her of the positives and negatives and even the unknowns of the agreement that the two of you may or may not have.  She will receive the benefit of this advice, not you.


Then her attorney will draft all of the documentation, including the Petition, the waiver of service and the Final Decree of Divorce.  Her attorney will explain the legal implications of all of these documents to her. Her attorney will make drafting choices that protect her and not you.  Again, she is receiving the benefit of the legal representation.

This is not to say every case should be complex and parties should not make agreements.  Quite the contrary, if parties can amicably divorce, then most likely they will be better co-parents and have a happier and healthier post-divorce relationship.  However, you need to understand what you are giving up by not getting your own attorney.  You will not be on equal footing with your wife in this circumstance.

Just because you hire an attorney, does not mean that the case is now contested.  You have the right to understand the rights and duties that you are becoming obligated to under the Court’s Order.  Once you understand, and an attorney has explained too you all of the risks and benefits of the agreement, then you can sign off an agreement with your spouse.  An attorney will make suggestions to you of ways to improve the agreement or to protect yourself from things that you have not considered.  That is his or her job, to protect your best interests.  

Remember if there is only one attorney, then only one person’s best interests are being protected.

Dorothy Walsh Ripka is the Team Leader of the Cordell & Cordell, P.C. offices in Dallas, Fort Worth and Memphis. Ms. Ripka is a seasoned attorney who has devoted her practice exclusively to domestic relations. She is licensed to practice law in Texas, Missouri and Illinois.

Read more about Dorothy Ripka.




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One comment on “One Attorney Or Two

    The Fast and Fair Divorce
    Every single one of my clients, without fail, tells me that they only want what is fair, and that they’d like their divorce over as fast as possible. Lately, I have been receiving a lot of calls from people who are contemplating divorce who are telling me, “We think we have everything figured out and we would like to use only one lawyer to write it all up.”

    I hear your concerns! The last thing you want to be doing at a time of such uncertainty and doubt, especially about matters financial when you are facing cutting “your pie” in half, is writing a big check to an attorney for what seems to you to be a simple proposition.

    I have dedicated my practice to meeting the real needs of my clients. I have also discovered that there are other attorneys with the same dedication. We vigilantly strive to provide legally sound and effective solutions to your most pressing problems, instead of “stirring the pot” and inadvertently exasperating an already volatile situation with irrelevant legal mumbo jumbo and courtroom antics.

    This is not to minimize your very important legal rights. Even though you and your spouse have discussed what makes sense to you, each of you needs to know that you are making the right decisions; for yourself and for your family. The only way to do this is to speak to your own attorney. You each need independent legal advice from Collaborative attorneys dedicated to out-of-court settlements and who know what they are talking about.

    Attorney Sherry L. Davis and I have developed a model based upon tried and true mediation practices within the parameters and protocols of Collaborative Family Law to provide our divorcing clients with trustworthy, compassionate and fair divorce settlements, ending in Collaborative Dissolution.

    Please contact either one of our offices for a free phone consultation and discover a Collaborative process centered upon what you, the client, know that you need.

    Law Offices of Maury White • 513-770-4350 •
    Law Offices of Sherry Davis • 513-533-1234 •

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