Most of the time, life within a family is a positive, united experience. Still, as with many aspects of life, some or all family members need to undergo some type of legal process at one point or another. This does not mean that every situation requires a team of Minneapolis family lawyers. There are definitely times when one skilled lawyer can help get a process completed efficiently.
Understanding the Dividing Lines Between One or More Attorneys
As a general rule, one attorney is appropriate when legal issues are administrative in nature, or when all parties strongly agree on a required outcome. The following guidelines can help family members make this determination:
- Adoption — one: The act of adopting a child is one that unites family members, so it is important to engage one attorney to help address the needs of the entire family.
- Divorce — two or three: In most cases, divorce is contentious to some degree, so it is best for both spouses to retain their own attorneys who are dedicated to looking out for their individual interests. In some cases — particularly when issues pertaining to the children are highly contentious — parents may need to engage a separate lawyer to address the needs of the children. In fact, the courts may even require that a third lawyer represent the children at some level.
- Prenuptial agreements – two: Both parties may be in full agreement over the terms to be included in a prenuptial agreement, but these are legally-binding contracts. For any type of contract, it is best for both parties to engage their own attorneys dedicated to looking out for their long-term interests.
- Paternity — one or two: Fatherhood issues can involve the formalization of custody and support issues when two biological parents have the same goals. At the opposite end of the coin, mothers may seek support from unwilling fathers, or fathers might pursue visitation or custody of the children. One attorney is typically appropriate for basic administrative issues, but parents should seek their own legal support when there are areas of contention.
- Post-decree motions — one or two: Again, altering the original divorce decree can involve an administrative procedure, such as when both parents agree that circumstances require a change in visitation or even support. When parents do not agree on changes, of course, they each need their own representation.
- Domestic abuse — two: Whether domestic abuse involves physical violence or even verbal threats of violence, both spouses absolutely need their own legal support. These situations involve a significant imbalance of power within a relationship, so it is essential for victims to seek representation that can equalize this imbalance to protect their rights and safety.
From a technical point of view, even family members facing contentious issues can conceivably retain lawyers from the same firm. However, even though the lawyers use specific practices to keep client information separate and confidential, most family members are likely to experience distrust in situations like these. When more than one lawyer is needed, it is generally advisable to retain attorneys from different firms.
The Dividing Lines are Not Set in Stone
Regardless of the specific type of family law issue, every family has its own set of unique issues that can suggest a need for more or less attorneys than might normally be recommended. Our Minneapolis family law attorneys consider the details before making suggestions, which we thoroughly explain to our clients. To obtain the information needed to make an educated decision, call us at (763) 783-5146 or use our convenient contact form.