Signs You May Need a New Divorce Lawyer
Finding the right divorce attorney is key to resolving your divorce case, and so is knowing when to get a new attorney.
While there are many good divorce lawyers out there, some just fail to meet the mark either professionally or interpersonally. And it may take time before you realize your current attorney isn’t the best fit for you.
Here are five signs you may need to search for a new divorce lawyer:
1. Poor or No Communication.
Do you have a better relationship with your divorce attorney’s voicemail than with him or her? Does it often take you days to receive a response via email or phone?
Not only is poor communication annoying, lawyers have an ethical duty to communicate with their clients. A good lawyer may remind you that you’re being billed every time you contact him or her, but good divorce attorneys will be responsive to their clients. If your current lawyer is more of an email auto-reply or a ghost, consider dropping him or her.
2. Making Major Decisions Without Consulting You.
One of the reasons to have a divorce attorney is to not be bothered with every little legal nut or bolt involved in a divorce. However, your attorney should always inform you of major developments in your case and ask your authorization to make decisions.
For example, if you find out later that your attorney turned down an offer to settle without communicating it to you, it’s time to switch attorneys.
3. Sleazy or ‘Pitbull’ Attorney.
All attorneys are not created equal, and some prefer more unorthodox tactics to resolve cases. If you feel your attorney is up to something underhanded, don’t wait to file a malpractice claim, consider switching attorneys.
“Pitbull” attorneys may also rub you the wrong way by berating or verbally abusing your ex-spouse or the opposing attorney. It may be a long road to settlement if you have a caustic attorney at the helm, so consider trading up for a more congenial one.
4. Lack of Experience Shows.
You likely asked your current attorney about his or her experience before signing on, but sometimes first impressions are misleading. If your attorney has missed filing deadlines or is consistently at odds with judges, you may need to switch to a less green attorney.
5. You Just Don’t Like Your Attorney.
Divorce cases can last years in some cases, and divorce attorneys aren’t cheap. So why stick with someone who you hate? You don’t have to be best friends with your attorney, but he or she should try to make your working relationship friendly.
You Fight More Than You Get Along
It’s true, married couples argue sometimes. In fact, a couple that avoids all fights all the time may be in serious trouble. That being said, fighting all the time is a sure sign that your relationship could be toxic.
If you can no longer stand to be in the same room without fighting, it may be time to visit that law office you’ve been eyeing on your way to work. When a relationship hits a rough patch that lasts months or even years, there may be no way to put your differences behind. One last resort you can take to save your marriage is counseling. If seeing a couple’s therapist does not help you communicate more civilly, the need for divorce lawyer services may be on the horizon.
Even with these tips, it’s difficult to know if you’re arguing too much. Here are some signs that your fights have turned toxic:
- You fight over little things
- You fight over the same things each time
- You criticize each other in hurtful ways
- Your fights turn violent
Of course, if your fights have turned violent, you should contact a divorce lawyer as well as a domestic violence shelter immediately.
All of the above are signs that you can no longer resolve your conflicts in a constructive and loving manner. In this case, a family law attorney can act as a sort of mediator, or they can advocate for your rights to property and children in the event of a divorce.
Signs Your Divorce Lawyer Is Doing a Bad Job
1. Missed Deadlines
There is simply no excuse for an attorney who can’t file documents on time or one who misses important hearings in your case. Missing a court deadline could result in disastrous consequences for your divorce and may even amount to malpractice.
2. Perpetually Late
It’s a bad sign if your attorney is always running late, especially if it’s to an important meeting or a court hearing. Your lawyer isn’t your doctor, and you shouldn’t have to wait hours past your appointment.
3. Your Lawyer Doesn’t Remember Case Details
Although you shouldn’t worry if your attorney forgets the name of your fourth child, there’s a major problem if your lawyer doesn’t know anything about your case. Your attorney should remember the basics about your divorce.
4. Your Lawyer Doesn’t Know What’s Going on in Your Case
Your attorney should know your case status at any given time. It’s okay if your attorney needs to check the docket or case notes to verify certain items. However, your lawyer should be able to tell you what’s happening in your divorce when you ask.
5. Unreturned Phone Calls
It’s usually a bad sign if your attorney consistently fails to return your calls within a reasonable time. A lawyer who doesn’t respond to numerous messages probably isn’t giving your case the attention it deserves.
6. Unfamiliarly with the Divorce Process
Many attorneys focus on one or two practice areas, such as family law or criminal law. A lawyer who doesn’t understand the basics of a divorce or who can’t explain the court process probably isn’t qualified to handle your case. You may want to get a second opinion from another divorce attorney, who can review your lawyer’s work and let you know if there’s a problem.
Signs You’ve Got the Best lawyer
They have effective communication skills
A high-quality service of the lawyer is often known by his/her ability to not only be professional but also personal. This also includes responding swiftly to the queries or questions and also acting quickly on the instructions. Even when your case has not achieved the desired outcome, you can still assess whether or not your lawyer has offered you the best of services.
The lawyers are objective
It is said that a good legal service provider is the one who is able to stay objective and also seek truth at all cost. This might sound strange but the lawyer should not emphasize a lot on the pain. The lawyer should have a professional relationship which is based on the facts and trust.
They have the right area of expertise or specialty
There are lawyers who specialize in different areas, and they can also become State-Bar-certified specialists. You might not need a lawyer who has a specific specialization, but there is a notion that you might. The specialization includes criminal law, personal injury lawyers, family law, bankruptcy law, and immigration law. You should make sure that they have the right focus of practice in the chosen field. The immigration lawyers are one such that enjoys many of the sub-specialties like employment, family, and deportation.
They are honest about the fees
It can be a sore subject but it is important that the lawyer talks about the fees in an upfront manner. There are certain types of representations which have flat fees like basic bankruptcy, immigration matters, administrative law, etc. But there are many types of legal matters which have a varying amount of fees and a good lawyer will make sure that he/she will give you a range. This can be because the matters can be more complex and it can be impossible to predict as to how the other side will respond or react.
When Should You Hire a Lawyer for Divorce?
Ideally, if you are the one filing a divorce petition, you should get a lawyer before filing the petition. The attorney walks you through the process, files the petition for you, and even serves your spouse with the papers.
However, if you are on the receiving end of the petition, hire a divorce attorney immediately after receiving the divorce papers from your spouse. Don’t wait to have disagreements with your spouse to find legal representation.
Getting a lawyer immediately also safeguards your interests from the start. It prevents the other party from making moves that could hurt your parenting and financial future.