What Is a Conflict of Interest in a Divorce?

What Is a Conflict of Interest in a Divorce?

Ending a marriage is never an easy decision. You will find that there are plenty of emotional stressors on your mind during this time. The last thing you want to be asking yourself is what is a conflict of interest in a divorce? You should not be worrying if your attorney has anything that might prevent them from providing you with their most effective and professional representation. The right Pasadena divorce attorney will ease your stress, not add to it.

Unfortunately, there are some cases where a biased attorney can make your divorce more difficult. A biased attorney, or one who is more partial to your spouse, can consciously or unconsciously harm your case and cause you to lose desired assets. In the state of California, it is recommended that you and your spouse seek separate, unbiased representation for the sake of yourselves and your family.

Divorce Representation in California

Though it is not legally required for couples seeking a divorce to retain legal representation, it is usually a good idea in most cases. It is especially advised in divorce cases that involve minor children, high-valued property and assets, or significant debt. An attorney should help you reach your desired outcome, whether that be the custody of your children or property rights. If you hire a lawyer who is partial to your spouse, they won’t be able to perform their job as well.

According to the State Bar of California, attorneys cannot represent someone if there is a known conflict of interest regarding the case unless there is written consent provided from everyone involved. The attorney also needs to be of the belief that they can provide effective and detailed representation to both parties.

Thus, if an attorney represents you or your spouse despite there being a known conflict of interest, not only is it a bad idea, it is against California law.

What Counts as Conflict of Interest

There are many ways an attorney can be biased. However, it is important to know that conflicts of interest are a specific kind of bias that meets certain criteria. The California State Bar defines conflict of interest when representing a client as the following:

  • The attorney or their firm has a legal, personal, financial, or business connection with someone else involved in the case.
  • There is a risk that their work will be poor or that the lawyer’s own interests will be affected due to their responsibilities or the relationships with someone involved in the case.
  • Representing one client is in direct opposition to another client in the same or separate case.

In general terms, attorneys cannot represent clients who are on opposite sides of the same case. They also cannot take on a client if they personally know anyone involved in the case or if they know the opposition’s lawyer.

In divorce cases especially, conflicts of interest could look like:

  • Representing you and your spouse.
  • Representing you and being related to your spouse.
  • Representing you if your spouse is represented by another lawyer at the same firm.

A lawyer found doing any of these things should be reported to the State Bar.

Why an Unbiased Attorney Is Essential

While it is clear that working with a biased attorney is not a good idea, it is just as important to remember that working with an unbiased attorney is crucial. An unbiased attorney has the ability to take on a number of tasks and perform them well.

  • Create Your Case: When working with an unbiased attorney, know that they will put time and effort into getting the results you desire. An experienced legal team in your corner, who understands all the nuances of your case, is essential to a potential positive outcome.
  • Keep to Deadlines and Manage Paperwork: An attorney who remains impartial can ensure your case stays on track. You don’t have to concern yourself with deadlines when your lawyer is already on top of things.
  • Have Access to Necessary Resources: In some unfortunate cases, one spouse might find themselves victims of the petty actions and reactions of the opposite spouse. An attorney can ensure you know the resources available to you that may prove necessary for your protection.

It is vital, then, that you hire an attorney who can look at your case with objectivity rather than any outside bias that may influence their work on your case.

How to Avoid Conflict of Interest

In some instances, there may be no conflicts of interest at the beginning of a case. As the case proceeds, however, some conflict may arise. As soon as you catch any sign of conflict, speak with your lawyer. Do not be afraid of making your concerns heard and known.


Q: What Does It Mean When a Lawyer Says They Have a Conflict of Interest?

A: In the state of California, a conflict of interest can arise between attorneys and their clients if the interests of the client conflict with the interests of a third party, a separate client, or with the attorney themselves. Because attorneys have a legal duty to represent the interests of their clients, they cannot legally represent you if there is a known conflict of interest.

Q: What Is Considered a High-Conflict Divorce?

A: High-conflict divorce cases usually involve extensive litigation, intense legal involvement, and multiple court hearings. These cases also tend to include one or both spouses engaging in negative behavior to intentionally harm or slow the divorce process or cause emotional pain to one another. There can also be significant disagreements that make the process more complicated than it needs to be.

Q: What Will I Lose if I Get Divorced?

A: A divorce can affect personal finances. You may find yourself having to pay alimony, spousal support, or child support, depending on the agreed-upon arrangement made in your divorce settlement. You may also find yourself with less time spent with your children if you have to share custody. Property owned jointly in the marriage may also be split, depending on the case.

Khalaf Law Group – A Law Firm That Cares

Divorce cases, by themselves, are difficult enough situations. Your lawyer shouldn’t add to this difficulty. The way to avoid any kind of conflict of interest is to hire your own representation. You can rest assured knowing your interests will be looked out for if you hire a firm that has never worked with your spouse before.

Contact Khalaf Law Group today. Our team of experienced and trusted family law attorneys is eager to advocate for your rights and protections and to stand by your side during this challenging time.

About Ted Khalaf

As you maneuver the difficult process of divorce and custody, it is essential that you are supported by a team of legal experts well versed in California specific Divorce and Family Law. For well over a decade, Khalaf Law Group have been serving clients across Southern California in all areas of Divorce and Family Law. With an exceptional track record of courtroom successes, Khalaf Law Group take great pride in providing their valued clients with the knowledge and information they require to maintain peace of mind and a positive outcome in their case.

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