Attorney-Client Relationship
Summary in Divorce

Lawyers vary greatly in their abilities, and care must be taken in the selection of a lawyer to handle a divorce. While it may be tempting to hire an attack dog or a hired gun, divorce is one area of law where unnecessary bloodshed should be avoided.

In general, divorce lawyers see themselves as professional advocates -- craftsmen using the law to help expedite the most favorable result for their clients. Few welcome the role of priest, but because divorce wrenches people from their moorings, many lawyers prop up clients whose mental and emotional reserves become drained.

Lawyers are hourly workers. In most divorces, the attorney and client sign a retainer agreement, a contract between them spelling out their responsibilities to each other. Also called a fee agreement, this agreement spells out the terms and conditions of the lawyer’s employment (his or her hourly rate as well as the hourly rate of others in his or her employment). The agreement spells how an attorney’s fees are paid. Most lawyers ask for a deposit, and then begin to withdraw from that deposit based on their hourly rate.

Many clients going through a divorce call lawyers needlessly, which adds to their costs because lawyers bill for such calls and graduate their billable time in small fractions of an hour.

The relationship between a lawyer and his or her client is privileged, which means that conversations and communication between the two of them cannot be later used as evidence.

No lawyer may represent both spouses in a divorce action, no matter how "friendly" the parties are. For obvious reasons, couples who have used the one lawyer to handle their legal affairs during the happier times of their marriage cannot use him or her to represent one of them when they part ways.

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