The Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct are a special set of rules that all Mississippi lawyers must follow. One of the rules, Rule 4.2, says that a lawyer cannot speak to a person who is represented by another lawyer. This means that a divorce lawyer is usually not ethically permitted to speak to his client’s spouse concerning the divorce. However, these rules only apply to lawyers, and do not prevent a client from speaking freely with their spouse, even about the divorce. Absent a court order barring the spouses from communicating, the parties to the divorce are can communicate with each other until they are blue in the face. Even though spouses may be allowed to speak with one another during the divorce, is doing so such a good idea?
Spouses that communicate effectively are usually not involved in divorce proceedings. Thus, it is not surprising that more harm than good can come from spouses directly communicating while the divorce case is ongoing. Naturally, some level of communication will be required of the spouses, especially if the parties have minor children. It is best to limit these interactions only to what is essential to the basic functioning of the family during the divorce and leave the rest to the lawyers.
Resolution of a divorce case normally comes down to negotiations between the spouses. Lawyers spend a great deal of time discovering facts and researching the law to improve a client’s position in divorce negotiations. The lawyer’s time costs the client money. Entertaining a biting comment, accusatory statement, or a comment on who won or lost the most recent battle in the divorce case may be temporarily satisfying to the client. However, unnecessary communication may unwittingly undercut the negotiating position that the client has paid a great deal of money to develop. Until the ink is dry on the divorce judgment, it is always advisable to follow the advice we first learned as children: “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all.”