If my divorce lawyer was seeing my ex-husband months beforeour divorce was finalized, did that constitute a conflict of interest?

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If my divorce lawyer was seeing my ex-husband months beforeour divorce was finalized, did that constitute a conflict of interest?

They married within months of finalizing my decree. He hired her best friend which I believe, is also a conflict of interest. Then, I get letter from his new “divorce lawyer” saying that if you do not sue me or my fiance (my ex-divorce lawyer), I will go ahead and sign off on Innocent Spouse form for back taxes due the IRS. Sounds like coercion and extortion. On top of that, the back taxes are $500,000. My mother died 05/10/10 and they announced that they were getting married on 05/18/10, and I stupidly told the ex what I received.  I am exhausted. Do I have case for her disbarment or criminal charges? Should I speak with a personal injury attorney? In Monterey County, CA. 

Asked on January 15, 2011 under Family Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

This sounds like it very likely was a conflict of interest and a violation of attorney ethical rules; this is specifically, I believe, one of the things matrimonial lawyers are *not* supposed to do. It could give rise to either penalties for the attorney and/or a cause of action for malpractice. The attempt to coerce you into not suing could also give rise to sanctions, a cause of action, and, depending on the exact circumstances, potentially even criminal liability if it's viewed sufficiently as blackmail or the equivalent. You should consult with an attorney with experience in suing other lawyers for malpractice--that would be the kind of lawyer most likely to best evaluate your options and help you  seek compensation and/or justice. Good luck.


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