The short answer to your question is “No”. It’s important to separate your professional relationship with your divorce lawyer from any personal relationship. Having the two relationships at the same time is never a good idea.
You may have trouble knowing your true feelings during the stress and strain of a divorce case. It’s natural to believe that you have feelings of affection that may not be real. They may simply be the result of your vulnerability and your admiration for the lawyer who’s helping you through a very rough period in your life. These sorts of things also happen in doctor-patient relationships.
Even though your feelings of affection may be genuine, it is never advisable to have a social relationship with your divorce attorney during the time that he is providing legal representation for you. In order to provide appropriate representation, your lawyer must be in a position to make objective decisions regarding your case, free of personal involvement. His ability to do this can be seriously hampered by a personal or social relationship with you. It’s virtually impossible for the attorney to switch back and forth between a professional and personal relationship.
A social relationship, even if agreeable to you and your lawyer, can be trouble for him. Such a relationship during the time of representation may violate the Illinois Code of Professional Responsibility. These are the rules that govern the conduct of attorneys in Illinois. It’s generally accepted that the Rules prohibit social relationships during the course of representation.
If you genuinely want a social relationship with your divorce lawyer, then wait until the case is over. If the relationship starts before that time, then your attorney should withdraw from the case. While your lawyer is in the case and providing legal services to you, there should be nothing more than a professional relationship. This will serve your best interests and his as well.
Jay A. Frank is a senior divorce practitioner with Aronberg Goldgehn in Chicago. He has been selected as one of the top family-law attorneys in Illinois. With more than 35 years of experience, he focuses his practice on all aspects of Illinois family law. He can be reached at (312) 828-9600. View his Divorce Magazine profile.