A conflict of interest arises when someone’s actions on behalf of one party could harm the interests of another party they’re associated with.
Conflict of interest in family law often involves situations where a law firm or attorney has represented or is representing a party whose interests clash with those of a current or potential client.
Why is a Conflict of Interest Problematic?
Everyone who hires an attorney is entitled to receive legal counsel that is free from conflicts of interest.
This means you should be able to retain an attorney or law firm that will solely represent your best interests concerning your case.
For instance, if you hire an attorney for a divorce, and that attorney previously represented your soon-to-be-ex in another matter, it would create a conflict of interest.
Similarly, if you hire an attorney for a custody matter and later discover that the attorney knows your children personally through school, a conflict of interest arises.
This is because these relationships could influence the attorney’s decisions to avoid complications arising from those outside relationships.
Any existing or potential conflicts should be disclosed to the client.
How Can I Identify and Avoid Conflicts of Interest in Family Law?
Conflicts of interest can be challenging for clients and law firms.
Transparency is key when consulting with an attorney about your case, as you should disclose all personal details about all parties involved..
An intake questionnaire during the initial consultation can help identify potential conflicts.
Such conflicts may arise if they previously represented your ex or have a financial interest in your ex’s workplace or residence.
Conflicts of interest are more likely to occur where attorneys handle multiple areas, potentially involving prior clients.
Can I Waive a Conflict of Interest?
Exceptions or waivers for conflicts of interest are possible, but they require the consent of all parties involved.
This consent must be freely and voluntarily given after a full explanation of the conflict’s risks.
You must update the waiver if new risks arise. Attorneys cannot represent a client if their interests conflict with those of a former client.
To avoid unexpected conflicts of interest in your family law case, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced attorney.