A divorce is a complex and often emotional process. You’ll have your family law attorney at your side to help you navigate these legal waters during what is a difficult time in your life. For the sake of the outcome of your divorce and your own stress levels, it’s important you feel confident in and trust your divorce attorney. If you don’t, it can have a really negative impact on your case and your experience.
If you’re experiencing some issues with your attorney and are not sure what to do next, complete the three steps below to determine whether you may need to find yourself a new attorney for your case.
Assess Your Situation
When you’re not happy with your divorce attorney, the very first thing you need to do is pinpoint what the problem or problems are. As a starting point, think about whether you are experiencing any of the following issues with your attorney.
• Your attorney is just not communicating with you or returning your calls.
• You feel as if your attorney isn’t fighting for you.
• You’ve found out your attorney has missed some court dates or deadlines in your case.
• You no longer have confidence in your attorney.
• You believe your attorney’s approach to your case may be making the situation worse.
• You believe your attorney is charging you too much and/or you can no longer afford it.
• Your attorney won’t give you any type of bill.
• You are not getting clear answers about what is happening in your divorce from your attorney.
• Your divorce seems to be taking too long to resolve.
Once you have figured out just what your problems with your attorney are, you can move onto the next step.
Identify the Root Cause of Your Issues
Some problems are really issues with your attorney. Others, however, are not. You need to uncover the true cause of the issues you are having so you can deal with them.
If your attorney isn’t returning your calls, for example, that sounds like an issue with them. However, if you believe this because your attorney doesn’t call you back within an hour of you calling them, the problem is with you–your expectations there just aren’t realistic. An attorney returning calls within 24 to 48 hours is reasonable. But if you’re waiting a week to hear back, that’s definitely not reasonable.
Another example would be if you feel your case is taking too long. Who is the cause of the delay? Is it your attorney? Have you delayed in getting things to your attorney? Is your spouse or spouse’s attorney the one dragging their heels?
Talk to Your Attorney
Once you’ve identified your issues and the cause of each one, it’s time to address the ones you believe your attorney is responsible for with them. It’s best to have this conversation in person, but if that’s not possible, you can send an email. It’s possible that what is happening is a result of a misunderstanding, and you might be able to resolve it.
However, if the talk with the attorney doesn’t help, you’ll probably need another attorney. Note that if you find yourself confused after speaking with your attorney, you can meet with another attorney to get a second opinion about your situation.
Make Your Decision
If, after doing everything above, you discover your attorney is definitely the problem, you’ll have to weigh the cost of finishing the case with the current attorney versus hiring a new one. To make this choice, you’ll need to know where your case is.
If you have just recently started your case, switching attorneys shouldn’t cost you much. However, if your case is almost done, changing now may not make sense.
If you’re in the middle of the divorce, it will be a tougher call to make. You’ll need to really consider the situation from all the angles before you decide.