When parties are in a domestic dispute, how does communication with opposing party happen? We break down which parties talk to which and what the rules are when lawyers are involved. This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a family law attorney.
Neither party has a lawyer
If neither party has a lawyer, then obviously the communication occurs directly between the two parties to the action (the plaintiff and the defendant). While disputes can be highly contentious, it is typically beneficial to attempt to communicate, and potentially resolve matters amicably, throughout the process.
Both parties have a lawyer
Communication typically takes place in two major ways: 1) between the two family law lawyers and 2) between the two parties (plaintiff and defendant). The lawyers will talk to their client only and will not talk to the opposing party. In fact, a lawyer cannot talk to a represented party regarding the matter in which the party is represented. A represented party is a party that is formally represented by an attorney on a particular matter. However, an opposing family law attorney can technically talk to a represented party if that attorney has the consent of the opposing attorney to speak with that opposing attorney’s client. However, it is unlikely that the family law attorney will speak directly with a represented party, even if it is permissible.
One party has a lawyer and the other party does not
If one party is represented and another party is unrepresented (“pro se”), then communication typically takes place in two major ways; 1) between the family law attorney and the unrepresented opposing party and 2) between the two parties (plaintiff and defendant). Unlike the rules regarding a represented party, an opposing attorney can freely speak with an unrepresented party. If an unrepresented party hires a family law attorney and thus becomes represented, opposing counsel should receive notice of the representation from the party’s new attorney.