Divorce is very frustrating. It takes an enormous amount of time and energy, especially if you’re in a high-conflict situation with endless motions and court dates and responses to various complaints. It’s easy to blame the frustration on your attorney. After all, your attorney is on the front lines, theoretically representing your best interests.
How do you know if they’re really representing you to the best of their ability? When is it “them”, not “you”? Start by determining the real source of your frustration.
Put together a timeline of what’s happened so far, what’s outstanding and what you’re still waiting for. Your attorney should have this, however, if you prefer to save the time and money asking your attorney, prepare it yourself.
Notice where the delays are:
- Is your attorney doing what was agreed to in a reasonably timely manner?
- Is the opposing counsel getting back to your attorney in a timely manner?
- Is your spouse delaying by not providing the requested information?
- Are you waiting on scheduled court dates?
- Are you responding to your attorney in a timely manner with full information?
Once you lay out the timeline, you can see if your perception and reality match: is it really taking as long as I think? How much control does my attorney have over the situation?
Then ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you informed about what the next steps are? You should understand what is happening in your divorce process and what logical next moves are.
- Is your attorney prepared when you go to meetings? Has he/she read all the documentation in advance and reviewed it with you?
- Does your attorney prepare you when you have upcoming meetings or court dates? Depositions and court appearances can be scary and emotional, has your attorney told you what might happen?
- Is your attorney adequately able to advocate for you and translate your needs to your spouse? If your attorney is fighting for things that aren’t important to you and ignoring what is may mean he/she is looking for the easy way out – points the attorney knows can be won rather than fighting for what is really needed.
- Do your attorney’s bills make sense? Did you actually send 10 emails or call 5 times?
- Has the nature of your negotiation changed? Did you start out mediating and now find yourself litigating and you’re still using the same attorney? In my opinion, this would be the biggest reason to change attorneys. In most cases (there are some exceptions), you don’t want a mediator litigating or a litigator mediating.
Changing attorneys is a very expensive proposition. Make sure you do your homework before making the change.