Once the divorce process starts, you put a lot of faith in your lawyer. He or she plays an important role in keeping things moving forward while helping you to negotiate a fair settlement. But what if your attorney fails to meet your expectations along the way? Should you be patient and hope for the best or find new representation?
Hiring a new divorce lawyer comes with its own set of challenges. For example, your new attorney will need time to get up to speed on the current proceeding. Not only will that extra time prolong the divorce process, but it will also increase your costs.
Having said that, there are several circumstances in which sticking with your current legal counsel could result in a lot of wasted time and money. If your attorney does any of the following on a consistent basis, it may be time to fire him.
#1 – Demonstrates A Lack Of Proficiency
You need an attorney who has considerable experience helping clients end their marriages. The last thing you want is to hire someone who has little to no experience with key aspects of your case. For example, if you run a small business, you want legal counsel who understands the issues that impact entrepreneurs.
#2 – Fails To Respond To Your Questions
To be fair, your lawyer cannot be at your beck and call. A fair portion of his day will be spent meeting with clients, representing them in court, or working on their cases. Expect that your calls will go to voicemail. Expect emails to go unanswered for several hours.
But your lawyer should return your calls and respond to your emails within a reasonable time frame (e.g. within one day). If you get the feeling that he’s regularly ignoring your questions, it’s time to find another attorney.
#3 – Is Abrasive Or Confrontational
Your lawyer should be on your side. He should be your advocate and work to help you get the results you expect. Surprisingly, many lawyers are confrontational with their own clients. They’re accustomed to making things happen and sometimes treat their clients in a way that is perceived as insensitive.
It is important that you have a positive, productive relationship with your attorney. If talking to him or her is routinely unpleasant, find new legal counsel.
#4 – Shows Indifference To Your Divorce Case
In order for your lawyer to be an effective advocate, he must take an active interest in your case. That means he should be willing to come up with unique solutions that accommodate your needs. Each case is unique and deserves a tailored approach.
If your attorney treats your case like every other case he’s handled in the past, it’s a sign of indifference. If he’s unwilling to come up with solutions that are specifically tailored to your circumstances, consider hiring a new lawyer.
#5 – Fails To Remember Details
Your attorney should be able to recall important details from your case. For example, he should be able to remember whether he has filed certain documents with the court. He should be able to reconstruct key items that you want in your settlement agreement.
While you can’t expect him to recall every detail from memory, you should expect him to keep good notes. If you find yourself repeating things on a regular basis, it indicates that your attorney is either forgetful or disorganized. Both situations can have an adverse effect on your case.
#6 – Fails To Keep You Updated About Your Case
You should expect to hear from your lawyer periodically with regard to your case. You shouldn’t feel as if you’re being kept in the dark about its progress. For example, your lawyer should let you know when the appropriate documents have been filed with the court, and when the next steps can be taken.
If you’re having to call or email your lawyer whenever you want an update about your case, it’s a sign that he can’t be bothered to stay in touch with you. That could be a red flag that suggests you’re better off with another attorney.
The working relationship you have with your divorce lawyer plays an important role in getting the results you want. Remember, your divorce will have an effect on your life for years to come. Make sure you have an attorney you can trust to champion your interests.