Can I call my spouse’s lawyer if mine is out of town?

Can I call my spouse’s lawyer if mine is out of town and I need to discuss certain aspects of my case?

By Paula J. Swensen
April 01, 2016
can I call my spouse’s lawyer?

The answer is “no,” not without the consent of your lawyer. It is not advisable for you to call your spouse’s lawyer, and your spouse’s lawyer, in the absence of an agreement, is prohibited from taking the call.

Lawyers in California are governed by the Rules of Professional Conduct. Rule 2-100 prohibits a lawyer from speaking directly to a person who he or she knows to be represented by counsel, without that person’s counsel present.

If one party is unrepresented, that party may speak to the lawyer for the other party directly. However, if a party is represented by counsel, a lawyer is ethically bound not to speak to the other party without the presence or participation of that party’s lawyer.

The rationale is that a party is entitled to have his or her lawyer present for any dealings with the other party’s lawyer so that there is no possibility of that party inadvertently prejudicing their case by what is said to the other party’s attorney. A litigant may not know the potential legal significance of an off-hand remark made to the lawyer, for example. A party has presumably retained an attorney to be his or her advocate in dealing with the other party’s lawyer so as to avoid such a situation.

There may be some instances when all parties and counsel agree for a party to speak directly to the other side’s attorney, but those instances would likely be for some limited purpose such as to impart certain background information that may be needed in furtherance of both parties’ settlement of the case. However, absent the agreement of your lawyer, it is never appropriate to call the other party’s lawyer if you have counsel of your own.

Paula J. Swensen is a Certified Family Law Specialist at Phillips Whisnant Gazin Gorczyca & Curtin, LLP, a family law firm in Newport Beach, California. View the firm’s Divorce Magazine profile.

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April 01, 2016

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