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Representation of Interests Adverse to Former Client

Adopted: July 15, 1988

Opinion rules that an attorney may represent a wife in a divorce proceeding against a husband whom the attorney previously represented in a custody proceeding against the husband's first wife.


Attorney A represented Husband in a custody proceeding against Wife No. 1. At the time Husband was married to Wife No. 2. After the conclusion of the custody proceeding, Wife No. 2 asks Attorney A to represent her in obtaining a divorce from Husband.

May Attorney A represent Wife No. 2 against Husband? Would the answer change if Husband and Wife No. 2 had not been married at the time of the first action between Husband and Wife No. 1?


The prior custody proceeding between Husband and Wife No. 1 does not appear to be substantially related to the contemplated divorce action between Husband and Wife No. 2 and therefore Attorney A may represent Wife No. 2. Attorney A may not divulge any confidences or secrets of Husband which Attorney learned during his prior representation, however. If Attorney A cannot adequately represent Wife No. 2 without revealing these confidences or secrets, Attorney A must decline to represent Wife No. 2, or, if he has already taken the case, must withdraw. See Rules 5.1(c) and (d).

Husband's marital status at the time of his action against Wife No. 1 would not, without more, affect the answer to Attorney A's inquiry.

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