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What if I don’t trust my lawyer’s advice on the divorce?

July 24, 2016 Our Blog

You need to rely on the expertise of a lawyer when going through a rough divorce. There might come a time when the lawyer gives you advice that you simply cannot accept. You do not have to listen to the attorney. You can take action. Here is what to do if you do not trust your lawyer’s advice about the divorce.

Consider the Facts and State of Your Divorce

Your first action should be to step back and consider all the facts and state of your divorce so far. You want to understand all aspects of the divorce as they stand presently. This is an important step because you should be able to see why your lawyer was providing the advice that you do not agree with. Look at every detail and try to comprehend the position of your lawyer before moving on. This step is also critical because you want to be able to speak from an informed position about the divorce proceedings.

Request an In-Person Meeting Right Away

Your next step should be to request an in-person meeting with your lawyer right away. Do not rely in phone calls or emails. You need to communicate as clearly and unambiguously as possible. Speak honestly but politely with your attorney. Express your doubts about the advice that you have been given. Ask for an explanation as to why the lawyer thinks that way. Describe in detail why you want to follow a different strategy. Remember that your attorney works for you. The lawyer should do what you want if it is within reason. A meeting with your attorney can sometimes solve the problem and clear up misunderstandings quickly.

Seek Out a Second Opinion

If you are unsatisfied with what happened during the meeting with your attorney, then seek out a second opinion immediately. You want to talk to another unrelated divorce lawyer in the area. You can often schedule a consultation or an hour of time with a new attorney. You want to describe what is happening with your divorce at the moment. You should then talk about the advice your current lawyer is providing. Another attorney might let you know that the advice is wrong or detrimental. If the second opinion does not support your attorney, then it is time to take serious action.

Find a New Divorce Attorney

If you and your attorney do not seem to be communicating well or agreeing on a strategy, then it is time to find someone else. Start searching for a skilled divorce lawyer in your area. Interview the possible lawyers in person. Look for someone who communicates well with you. Avoid lawyers who seem to have excessive caseloads. Ask questions about your case and the ways the attorney would approach it. Do not stop looking until you are satisfied completely with an attorney.

Fire Your Existing Lawyer

You will need to fire your existing lawyer once your find a new attorney. Do not do this until you have found someone else so that there is no delay in your divorce proceedings. You really want to terminate the previous lawyer in person. You might also want to send a certified letter to the attorney to make things clear if communication is a problem. Make certain that you act fast since changing lawyers late in a divorce could actually set you back significantly.

If you’re in the middle of a divorce, it’s important to be confident in your lawyer. Sometimes people reach the point at which they feel like they have trust problems with their attorney. When this is the case, they tend to wonder what strategy should be employed. You might also be wondering what can be done if you don’t have trust in your lawyer’s advice.

Directly Discuss the Concerns

If you don’t trust the advice of your divorce lawyer, the first step is to communicate with them. You won’t make any headway if you don’t confront the issue head-on. Even if it seems intimidating, it’s important that you and your lawyer trust each other. You might be tempted to go behind your lawyer’s back or be passive aggressive. However, that won’t serve you. Your lawyer cannot discuss your concerns with you if they do not know what those concerns are.

Make a scheduled appointment with your lawyer. You should have this meeting face to face. You might be tempted to avoid potential conflict by leaving a telephone message or sending an email with your issues. But a face-to-face meeting ensures that all parties can come to a collaborative understanding.

If you can, try not to act accusatory during the meeting. You should be direct and honest, but that doesn’t mean you need to be confrontational. Don’t go into the meeting expecting a fight. Instead, go in expecting a calm, rational conversation where you’ll both work together.

Once the meeting is over, you shouldn’t make your decision about further action right away. Take some time to think over everything you’ve talked about. If your lawyer’s conduct has some specific issue, you might want to see if they modify their behavior. To do that, you have to stick around for at least a little while.

In an ideal interaction, you and your lawyer will be able to come to an understanding. You’ll be confident moving forward with your divorce case, sure that your attorney has your wishes and best interests in mind.

However, there is a chance that the meeting will be unsatisfactory. If you still find yourself worried or upset, it might be necessary to take more steps. You’ll need to keep track of your case’s upcoming court hearings and deadlines. When you act in the divorce case, you should coordinate your movements in ways that do not harm your case.

Getting a Second Opinion

One of the steps you might take if you’re losing confidence in your lawyer is to get another opinion. It should be noted, though, that getting a second legal opinion when you’re already represented can be difficult.

Lawyers abide by the Code of Professional Responsibility. Each state also has its own guidelines for how lawyers may conduct themselves. Lawyers have limitations to the things they can say or the actions they can perform with another person’s client. If you want to get a second opinion, you might need to branch out farther than the legal community.

You might consider bouncing ideas off a colleague, family member, or friend. The most ideal person would be someone who has sound judgment and has experienced a divorce case themselves.

Seeking a New Lawyer

If you have a significant lack of trust and confidence in your lawyer, or your doubts persist for a long period of time, it’s not helpful to continue having a professional relationship with the lawyer. Constant and profound lack of confidence will inevitably impact your case in a negative way.

Before you terminate your relationship with your current attorney, you might seek alternative counsel. This is actually the most desired action. While you’re still represented by your current lawyer, other lawyers will have limitations on the professional things they can do for you.

However, after you get a positive commitment from the other counsel, you can go through the termination process with the lawyer you don’t trust. The official termination will be a written communication that explains you are firing them as your lawyer.

Issues with Retainer Fees

If your attorney has been paid a retainer, and some part of the retainer has not been earned, you have the legal right to a refund. If you find yourself needing to fire your lawyer, your written communication of termination should also include a request for a refund of their retainer. Make sure to specify that the refund should be given to you promptly. You’ll probably need the money to pay for retaining a new attorney.



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~ Francis Anim

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