When a marriage starts to fester, the first step should always be to seek the advice and counseling of a mediator, counselor, pastor, priest or trusted neutral friend. These solutions can hopefully preserve and strengthen the relationship and facilitate communication between you and your spouse, the lack of which is usually at the root of a marital dispute.
Many people imagine divorce in the legal context as a messy battle in a gaudy courtroom where a judge has the control and makes all the decisions. Legal separation does not have to be this way. According to the New York City Bar, a separation agreement is a legally binding contract that gives spouses control over how to divide assets and property. Spouses can also agree on how visitation with children will occur in a separation agreement. Before separating, it is important to know your rights with regard to separation and ease the emotionally charged nature of the separation. An attorney can often be a good person to talk to in preparation for separation, including helping prepare a separation agreement.
In a separation or divorce context, an attorney is only allowed to represent one spouse, not both. According to Duhaime, the attorney should make this clear if both spouses initially seek legal counseling together. If there is only one attorney involved in preparing a separation agreement, this could be a problem for the spouse who is not the client of that attorney.
An attorney cannot give legal advice about the separation agreement to the unrepresented party. Moreover, the attorney has a legal duty to zealously represent the spouse that has entered into an attorney-client relationship. Therefore, the unrepresented spouse should assume his or her interests are not being protected.