Many clients do not realize that they can switch divorce attorneys should they choose to do so, during the course of their divorce litigation. They remain with attorneys whom they are dissatisfied with because they do not understand the process for switching attorneys, or because they don’t realize that it is permitted. While there are certain reasons you may not want to switch counsel in the middle of your case, it is something that is possible and should be explored in the event that you are dissatisfied with the services of your divorce lawyer.
Table of Contents
- 1. You Can No Longer Afford Their Services
- 2. They Do Not Return Your Phone Calls or Emails in a Timely Manner, or At All
- 3. They Do Not Update You on What Happens in Court
- 4. They Consistently Blow Deadlines
- 5. They are Condescending or Do Not Consider Your Feelings and Opinions
- For What Reasons Should I Not Switch Attorneys?
Red Flags and Reasons to Consider a Switch Your Divorce Attorney
So, when should you consider switching divorce attorneys? The reason to do so is going to be different for different people. You cannot switch divorce attorneys every time the judge doesn’t make a ruling in your favor because it ends up being very expensive and it is probable that the attorney may not be at fault for the result. In our experience as Chicago divorce lawyers, there are 5 reasons appropriate to consider switching.
1. You Can No Longer Afford Their Services
If you can no longer afford your attorney’s services it is best to disengage representation, and the sooner, the better. Being open and honest about your financial situation can help ensure it is a clean break. In some instances, the attorney might be able to transfer your case to someone else int heir office at a lower rate so that you don’t have to start over with a new firm. However, incurring a lot of fees and then stiffing the attorney on the invoice is not likely to play out well. It is best to be honest about what you can afford so the attorney can try to work with you.
2. They Do Not Return Your Phone Calls or Emails in a Timely Manner, or At All
If your attorney never responds to you it makes it difficult for them to advise you. Keeping communication open with clients is very important. A good attorney will respond, even if it is just to let you know they are backed up and will be in touch with you soon. The process of family court is anxiety-inducing on its own, your attorney should not be adding to this. They should be in touch with you in a reasonable time frame.
3. They Do Not Update You on What Happens in Court
This is huge. If your attorney is letting you go overnight, or through a weekend without telling you what happened in Court on a date of a hearing or something similar, that is a red flag. You are entitled to know what happened in Court and you shouldn’t be kept waiting. If this happens once, you may want to have a conversation with the attorney regarding your expectation to be updated, but most attorneys will do this automatically without being told.
4. They Consistently Blow Deadlines
This is another big problem. All attorneys can miss a deadline or mis-docket a court appearance. This has become more commonplace during the COVID-19 pandemic as it has been harder to get orders back from the clerk’s office in some cases and deadlines sometimes pass before the orders are even signed. So, attorneys and Judges have been a bit more flexible about this while everything is virtual. However, if this happens often, it can cost a client money. If discovery is late without explanation or without an agreement to extend the deadline, sanctions can be imposed against the client, even if the client turned everything over to their attorney in a timely manner. A mistake is one thing, but chronic failure to make filing deadlines is a major red flag.
5. They are Condescending or Do Not Consider Your Feelings and Opinions
Your attorney is supposed to listen to you as the client and take into consideration your opinions and feelings. They cannot do things that could be viewed as unethical, but if there is a difference of opinion as to two different ways to handle a situation and neither would be problematic, the attorney should seriously consider what the client has to say. There are some situations where clients will want attorneys to act in ways that are not in the client’s best interests and in those situations the clients should listen to their attorneys. However, if your attorney is condescending and isn’t having open communication with your regarding your concerns, it may be time to move on.
For What Reasons Should I Not Switch Attorneys?
The biggest reason not to switch divorce attorneys is cost. Any new attorney who picks up your case file will have to review what has happened so far and become knowledgeable of your divorce case. That is going to be a bit costly. They have to get the documents, which sometimes can also be a struggle, and get up to speed, and the client pays for this time. So, if cost is a big concern and the case is close to finished it may not be worth the cost to change attorneys.
There are also some scenarios where a Chicago family court may not permit a divorce attorney to withdraw, such as when the case is set for trial. However, generally speaking, if you have already picked out and retained a new attorney who will replace your current attorney, without having to move the trial dates around, the Court will likely grant a request for a new divorce attorney to replace your current one.