Can a Lawyer Represent Both Parties in a Divorce in Illinois?

Often times, spouses and families share a lawyer throughout their marriage. Whether it is for prenuptial agreements, estate planning, or real estate closings families may grow to trust their family lawyer. But, when it comes time to bring things to a conclusion, the question of who gets to keep the family lawyer may come up. Sometimes clients ask “Can a lawyer represent both parties in a divorce in Illinois?” In this article, we will explore the options of retainer when a divorce occurs.

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Can a Lawyer Represent Both Parties in a Divorce in Illinois?

While you may already have a working relationship with a local attorney, it is not typical for one attorney to represent both parties in a divorce. Lawyers are subject to a strict code of ethics that ensures fairness and objectivity in their practice. This code of ethics requires lawyers to recuse themselves from cases for a variety of reasons, but keep reading to learn why lawyers cannot represent both parties in most circumstances, and how a good family law lawyer can still represent both parties in a divorce despite their strict ethics code.


First, an important term to understand in terms of the law is “conflict of interest”. This refers to a situation in which a person or entity’s personal interests or loyalties could interfere with their ability to act in the best interests of another party impartially and objectively.

In the legal context, a conflict of interest can occur when a lawyer, judge, or other legal professional has a personal interest or relationship that could compromise their duty to act in their client’s best interests or maintain impartiality in a legal matter. Regarding this article specifically, when representing both parties, a lawyer may be unable to provide unbiased and effective representation because the interests of each party conflict with the other.

Identifying and addressing conflicts of interest is crucial to maintaining the integrity and fairness of legal proceedings. Legal professionals are expected to disclose potential conflicts and, if necessary, recuse themselves from the matter to avoid compromising the interests of their clients or the justice system. Failure to manage conflicts of interest appropriately can lead to ethical violations, legal sanctions, or other adverse consequences.


The short answer to the prominent question in this article is no. In most jurisdictions, it is considered a conflict of interest for a lawyer to represent both parties in a divorce case. The reason behind this is that each party in a divorce has their own unique interests and goals, and it would be difficult for a lawyer to provide unbiased and independent advice if they were representing both spouses.

Divorce can involve contentious issues such as asset division, child custody, and spousal support, and each party may have conflicting interests in these matters. A lawyer must prioritize their client’s best interests, and if they were representing both parties, it could lead to a situation where one spouse’s rights are compromised or not adequately protected.

To avoid conflicts of interest, it is generally required that each party hires their own separate attorney. This ensures that both spouses receive proper legal representation and that their rights and interests are fully advocated for during the divorce process. It is also possible to represent yourself in family court in Illinois. Legal representation is not required but it is highly recommended. To learn more about how to represent yourself in family court in Illinois click the link.Good Child Support Attorney Bloomington IL


If both parties agree on all aspects of the divorce and there are no contested issues, some jurisdictions may allow the parties to use one attorney for the preparation of the legal paperwork to streamline the process. This is often called a joint divorce. However, even in such cases, it’s essential that the attorney clarifies their role and that they cannot provide independent legal advice to both parties.

If an attorney does find themselves in this situation, if there is any hint of a conflict of interest, they may withdrawal from the case. This is one of the scenarios of what happens when an attorney withraws from a divorce case in Illinois. In some cases where both parties do not retain proper counsel in situations where all parties do not agree on all aspects, a judge may have reason for dismissing a case. This and several other reasons would constitute why would a judge dismiss a divorce case in Illinois. To learn more check out the links above.


Mediation is an alternative to traditional divorce proceedings. During mediation, a neutral third party negotiator will work with both parties to create a custom plan for the issues in their divorce. While both parties are allowed to have their own lawyer, the mediator acts as a guide to help each side reach an agreement on complex issues such as child support, a parenting plan, alimony, and asset division. While the mediator is a trained professional, and often times a lawyer, the mediator does not represent either side and will not work to represent either side. Mediators simply facilitate conversations.


While there are certain specific circumstances where a lawyer can help both parties in a divorce, lawyers cannot represent both parties. Lawyers are bound by a strict code of ethics that ensures lawyers practice objectively and fairly. For couples preparing for divorce there are several options including mediation, or filing for a divorce jointly. When in doubt, it is important to meet with a local attorney where you can ask any of any remaining questions.


The Family Law attorneys at Koth Gregory & Nieminski understand that your family is the top priority, which is why we offer SAME-DAY APPOINTMENTS. If you need a divorce or other family law services, you can schedule your first meeting through our online appointment calendar. We look forward to meeting you.

Disclaimer: This article (Can a Lawyer Represent Both Parties in a Divorce in Illinois?) may contain information that is outdated as Illinois law continuously evolves. Meeting with an experienced family law attorney is the best way to ensure you are receiving the most current information about if a Lawyer Represent Both Parties in a Divorce in Illinois?

Can a Lawyer Represent Both Parties in a Divorce in Illinois?

Published by Dustin Koth on February 14, 2024

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