Legal Malpractice and Divorce

In divorce actions, legal malpractice may occur. If a client suspects that her attorney is liable for malpractice, she may file a civil malpractice action against the attorney or may file a complaint with the State Bar Association.

Attorney's Duty to the Client

The attorney has a duty to the client to represent her in a zealous manner. The attorney is the client's advocate and speaks on her behalf. The attorney represents the client in all courtroom procedures and out-of-court procedures. The attorney owes the client a fiduciary duty to represent her in the divorce action. The attorney should be looking out for the client's best interests at all times and should ensure that the client receives a fair property division as well as alimony and child support, if warranted. The client should place complete trust in her attorney. The attorney should timely file any documents and conduct himself in a professional manner at all times.

Conflicts of Interest

If the divorce attorney has a conflict of interest, such as he is representing both the client and her spouse or he had represented the spouse in the past, a conflict of interest may exist. A conflict of interest may occur if the attorney's personal interest, another client's interest, or a former client's interests would conflict with the representation of the current client. A conflict of interest is defined as an interest that the attorney has or may have had that would conflict in some manner with his current representation. Moreover, a conflict of interest may also be present if other lawyers in the firm have had relations or represented clients that are adverse to the present client's position. Generally, the attorney cannot represent two clients that have adverse interests.

Statute of Limitations for Filing Legal Malpractice Actions

Every state has a different statute of limitations period limiting the amount of time that a client may file an action against her attorney. If the client suspects that her attorney committed some type of malpractice by either breaching his duty to the client or that the attorney had a conflict of interest, the client should consult an attorney or file an action on her own. The client may contact the State Bar Association in her state and ask for advice, as well.

Copyright 2014 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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A Practice in Matrimonial Law

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