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Have you tried to reach your attorney and he or she won’t come to the phone? Are you not sure you attorney is representing your best interests? Sometimes the only course is to divorce your divorce attorney.

Here are five reasons to do it:                                             

• Personality ClashMaybe your attorney’s brutal aggression and blunt attitude was exciting when you met, but now that the whip’s been turned on you, it doesn’t feel so good. Plus, your attorney is making your husband’s attorney angry, turning the judge against you, and making the whole case run on and on. You just don’t like your attorney and don’t want to work another day with him or her.

• Mishandling the CaseYou’ve gotten a second and third opinion on your case and have discovered new strategies and cost-saving ideas that your current attorney ignores. You don’t want to waste another minute or dime hitting dead ends.

• The Never-ending Case. The divorce negotiations were moving along fine, but now, things are stuck. You can’t get a straight answer from your attorney about what’s holding things up, and that’s if you can get a call through. You think your case has been pushed to the side and, at this point, you’d rather find a new attorney, go to a mediator, or handle the case yourself, pro se, rather than pay this attorney for nothing.

• Too Much Money. Your attorney gave you an original estimate that now seems like a walk in the park. Costs have doubled (while the case is going as predicted) and your wallet is being drained. When you ask for an explanation of charges, the answer doesn’t make sense.

• Unethical Behavior. You ask your attorney not to share something with your husband’s attorney, and it got passed on anyway. You think your attorney is too buddy-buddy with your husband’s attorney, and offering deals you don’t want to make. Your attorney isn’t representing your interests, so why is s/he representing you at all?

If you decide you don’t want to continue with your attorney you can suggest he or she stop work while you and your husband go to a mediator. (Neither of you benefits if the divorce impoverishes you and the children.) Your attorney doesn’t attend the mediation sessions, just examines the agreement afterward to make sure nothing has been overlooked.

This is a holding action. But what if you want to fire the lawyer?

First, mention your concerns and let your attorney offer an explanation or remedy. If that doesn’t work, fire away with these 4 Steps to Fire Your Attorney:

1. Get the Bill. Get your most up-to-date bill by e-mail, fax or mail. Say that you’d like to make a payment. Only after you have the last bill, should you (or your new attorney) fire your former attorney. This will ensure that there is no creative math on your final bill.

2.Hire a New Attorney. Pick a new attorney before you fire the old one, and that means you will be interviewing attorneys. The new attorney will then draft a motion or notice generally called “Substitution of Attorney,” which will be filed with the court and sent to all parties to the action. The new attorney will communicate with your old attorney to obtain all of the divorce files. But of course the new attorney will charge you for this work, including reviewing everything that’s been done so far. Or:

3. Consider Representing Yourself. If you want to represent yourself, i.e. go pro se, your path is a little harder. Assuming your attorney has already filed divorce papers, call the county clerk’s office or the pro se office at the courthouse and ask them if they have a procedure or form for firing your attorney and going pro se. Most likely, they will ask you to write a letter addressed to the court and all parties informing them that your current lawyer is no longer working for you, that you are pro se, and that all documents and correspondence should be directed to you. You will need to date, sign, list the Index number and case name on the letter and mail a copy of it to all parties, the judge, and the trial support office. You will then have to communicate with your former attorney to obtain all of your divorce files.

4. Pay Your Bill. Firing your attorney does not get you off the hook. If you owe back payments, you may find the former attorney is resistant to sending you your files. Discuss this with the former attorney (or have your new attorney discuss it) and set up a payment schedule. If the attorney owes you part of your retainer, ask for it on the phone and in writing. If he refuses to give it to you, call your state or city bar association and ask about how to arbitrate the dispute.

Don’t be afraid to fire your attorney, but choose your words carefully. If you speak directly to the attorney, explain calmly that you felt your personalities weren’t a match or that as much as you needed help at the beginning you feel you can now manage the case on your own. Be kind because you still need the attorney to send you your files and give you a final update on the case. The faster and smoother the change over, the sooner you’ll get your divorce back on track.


Related Articles:

5 Ways to Help Your Attorney Help You Through Your Divorce - by Christina Rowe

Don't Let Your Divorce Attorney Overcharge You - by Jill Brooke

Click the following for articles and resource videos on Getting A Divorce.

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  • Comment Link Hindsight Monday, 15 May 2017 22:25 posted by Hindsight

    One thing to bear in mind is that it's tough to fire a lawyer in the middle of a case. It'll cause delays, and probably cost you more money. A lot of lawyers won't take on a client who has fired their attorney, because a high portion of those that fire attorneys tend to be impossible clients.

    I'm a business consultant myself, and won't take on projects on which another consultant has failed. I've had bad experiences every time I've done that.

    My divorce attorney was terrible at responding to messages, and I finally figured out that she wasn't reading some of the documents that were accompanied by a letter signed with her, with her instructions (long story how I figured this out, but it got me pretty angry several times, and I seriously looked into firing her three times).

    Towards the end of my case, when I could have dumped her and finished it myself, an email went unanswered for a month.

    I sent her an email asking why she hadn't responded, and followed it with this comment: "You and I need to have a long talk about your response times and poor document review. Both have cost me time (my hourly rate is higher than yours, by the way, and the extra wasted or unnecessary time in total far exceeds what you put into my case), and money/additional bank fees, etc."

    Among other things, an error on the quitclaim deed invalidated it, and I had to redo my refinancing.

    Amazingly, she responded within 24 hours, perhaps fearing a complaint or lawsuit. I wish I had complained earlier, and in hindsight, wish I had fired her at the first sign that she was too busy to respond or read the documents she had sent me.

    Unfortunately, like most going through a divorce, I was in shock as well as overwhelmed by the additional workload, and not thinking clearly.

    If you do endure a crappy lawyer, let the court of public opinion judge. Write up a complaint on AVVO. Make sure that it is absolutely factual, so the attorney doesn't sue you, but let the world know if your lawyer does a poor job. You can also consider filing a complaint with the state, or going back afterwards and demanding some or all of your fee back in lieu of a lawsuit.

    I would have demanded my entire fee back or told her that I would have filed a complaint with the state board and ported internet complaints; unfortunately, after I retained her, she hired the mother of one of my daughter's friends, and even had her do a minor amount of work on my case (without asking me first), and I didn't want to start a war that might involve my daughter's friend.

  • Comment Link Erin York Saturday, 01 October 2016 15:59 posted by Erin York

    Please help! My divorce attorney wont give me a bill after I told him me and my husband aren't proceeding. He went to court w/out my knowledge and cont. the case. I filed motion to w/draw the divorce and asked my lawyer to w/draw also. I gave $8,000 originally and we have no assets. All he's don is file and send papers to my husband. Now he says when I go to court to end it I have to send him the paperwork. I keep asking him for a bill and refund of what services that were not used. What do I do?!

  • Comment Link Deborah Friday, 10 June 2016 19:05 posted by Deborah

    My hired California divorce attorney betrayed me in a huge and most egregious way. I had moved from WA state to California without my husband's knowledge and him not knowing where I lived either and wanted to keep it this way.
    But, my attorney decided to tell him where I lived so he could mail me the money he had taken out of our joint bank account as he was not supposed to do this to me.

    I am filing an ethics violation on my attorney and will be hiring another attorney in 2 weeks when I have the money to do so. Simply stunned at what she did to me and am asking the CA State Bar to find this to me so wrongful they grant me the monetary compensation I deserve because of this incident. Hopefully the board also tarnishes my attorney's clean record too.

  • Comment Link denise Tuesday, 15 December 2015 22:23 posted by denise

    The divorce is final the property and children have been settled. I told my attorney not to do any other work since these things that I've hired him for are complete. (My ex likes to keep the legal battle ongoing despite this fact.) Is that all there is to it? Because I emailed my attorney not to do any more work, yet my ex says he is still working for me. Is that even possible?

  • Comment Link Howard Simpson Saturday, 05 September 2015 02:43 posted by Howard Simpson

    i have been fighting this divorce with my ex-wife for over (2) years and and i just feel that my attorney did not Representing in the best interest and this divorce cost me over 10,300.00 attorney fees and more and i i just got done giving her 400.00 more can you please what can we do i don't even have any divorce papers, court papers,i just keep on sending money and don't think she representing me and let my ex-wife do what she feels like doing and change the locks on a house that don't belong to her that's my house i need some help before this run's

  • Comment Link Ronny lesperance Wednesday, 13 August 2014 15:03 posted by Ronny lesperance

    When I first had appointments with my lawyer she acted, Like she had my best interest, now everything has change she is way to friendly with my exes lawyer and she knows I don't have any money . I was homemaker for 20 years he has all the control over our asset and is trying to change spousal support which I need. I am afraid I am going to be homeless

  • Comment Link Steve Thursday, 12 June 2014 15:16 posted by Steve

    I have a lawyer now that told me it would cost 1500 to do a letter of agreement but I have just seen a bill for $985 and he hasn't even started the letter .. It seems like he is just soaking me for everything I got ... My x is threatening to take me to court and my money is running out really fast .. Can I hire another lawyer to get this letter of agreement done quick ?

  • Comment Link sharon levy Monday, 26 May 2014 01:05 posted by sharon levy

    My divorce case has gone on for nearly five years, I had incompetent one, incompetent two and now three, I know more about my case and my ex's medical practice and they have done nothing to protect me, I think my attorney is taking advantage and is deliberately stalling my case, if he pressured the ex with depositions, sanctions for no shows and so on the pressure would be on to settle, my ex is on his 7th attorney
    Is it not true that THE ATTORNEY WORKS FOR ME, and he needs to do what I ask....which is not out of line.

  • Comment Link Luke logan Monday, 12 May 2014 07:15 posted by Luke logan

    divorce lawyer

    These tips for firing the lawyer are very helpful.

  • Comment Link Azer Azer Monday, 16 December 2013 14:31 posted by Azer Azer

    Not to reflect badly on the justice system and that noble profession; but something has to be done to rectify the whole system, and to put it back on track. I am very close to a final court appearance to sign the divorce papers and the settlement...But the attorneys (mine and my adversary) won't let it go; they want to squeeze every single penny they can get before that date. Creating unnecessary problems, changing the language, a third and forth layers at the last minute as added security that I will abide by that statement...They know our assets and they decided their piece of the cake from the beginning. Some lawyers are just crooks in suits and ties.

  • Comment Link Helga Tuesday, 01 October 2013 00:20 posted by Helga

    In Arlington Curcuit court, VA : I lost custody at "pendent lite" hearing to my abusive husband. Just because he lives in our house and kids lived with him 2 months while I was in women's shelter after he filed Protective order against me. I live in apartment now, POs are dropped but I see kids twice a week and 2 overnights a months! My lawyer rushed into hearing without bringing NOT ONE witness!!! I have a debt to her in $22,000. Can I still hire new attorney? Can I change the judge? Can I be put into the house instead my husband?

  • Comment Link Guest Wednesday, 14 August 2013 09:20 posted by Guest

    I have had 3 attorney's. I am still not divorced and systematically have had all assets given to my husband. I just wanted a divorce. How do I do this? The judge is now mad a spit and it looks like I am the one not compromising so he just kept giving everything to husband. I have 100% custody. More to the story. By the way I owned my own business that the judge now won't let me run or take an income from. He put me on food stamps. I am now trying to find a job.

  • Comment Link Shortie Monday, 15 July 2013 01:48 posted by Shortie

    I tried firing my attorney and he was completely unprofessional. I was bullied into keeping him due to his threats that my behavior and the behavior of the other attorney was "unethical" (I asked another attorney to review my case). He then threatened to "pursue full legal action" against me for my bill and "full legal action" as well as report the other attorney to the bar. He was very belligerent and "angry" not to mention this entire conversation was done via his office phone because he was driving back from another town. My divorce has been going on for almost two years, I WANT THIS DONE! It's been a horrible experience for my toddler and it needs to be resolved now! Does anyone have any suggestions?

  • Comment Link Guest Friday, 14 September 2012 23:20 posted by Guest

    How do I appeal myself: I went through an awful divorce and custody as well. I found out my husband was (is) gay and he was able to get a free attorney through gay and lesbian community. Me? I got dumped by my attorney because I didn't have $800 to give him 3 days before trial. So I walk in to court, never get to say anything and am forced to settle with something I do not agree with and it's killed my soul. It's not right that my X used my son and I to hide behind because he didn't want' anyone to know yet.

    I want my son the way I should have had him. I stayed home to be the "stay at home mom" and now my son is gone 50% of the time with a man who is just mean and nasty and is very jealous of the bond my son and I have.

    How do I appeal on my own?

    Please someone help me.

  • Comment Link Guest Thursday, 23 August 2012 22:00 posted by Guest

    You are the expert when it: You are the expert when it comes to your soon-to-be-ex-spouse. Your attorney is in it for themselves as much as for you. Don't expect the attorney to rescue you, just to get you out with the best settlement possible for your long-term well-being.

    Read the documents yourself, and point out to your attorney any areas of concern. Your attorney may be far too trusting of your ex, especially if they are into amicable mediated settlement. In an ideal world an amicable, balanced and fair (read ADULT) ending makes a lot of sense. But if your ex is passive-agressive, charming, and underhanded, you need to ultimately look out for yourself.

    Get educated via divorce support groups, your friends, and on-line social resources. We have been through this and survived to tell the tale.

    Remember, living well is the best revenge. And you will define for yourself just what "living well" means.

  • Comment Link Guest Thursday, 02 June 2011 19:36 posted by Guest

    I developed a different kind : Seek counseling. They are cheaper than lawyers and will listen to you forever and ever.

  • Comment Link Guest Thursday, 02 June 2011 19:34 posted by Guest

    Seek counseling. They are: Seek counseling. They are cheaper than lawyers and will listen to you forever and ever.

  • Comment Link Guest Tuesday, 22 February 2011 04:44 posted by Guest

    Virginia Alimony Lawyers: Sometimes, divorce attorneys and clients need to part ways either amicably, or one should literally fire the other. Either the attorney should “fire” the client or the client should fire the attorney. It’s a lot easier for the client to fire the attorney than for the attorney to fire the client, btw. But that is another post. Suffice to say, sometimes, one needs to fire the other. Incompetence, Insolence, Indifference these are 3 reasons the client should fire the attorney.

  • Comment Link Guest Monday, 27 September 2010 11:43 posted by Guest

    I really think this article: I really think this article should be given to everyone about to go through a divorce. Lots of people just choose a solicitor based on a recommendation/ reputation but fail to admit that they may not work well with them.

  • Comment Link Guest Wednesday, 18 November 2009 13:31 posted by Guest

    find attorney : This is really a wonderful blog as tells us about the points which needs to be kept in mind while hiring a lawyer for any of our cases. Few years back when i got divorced there was no one to tell me about these things and i was betrayed by my lawyer.

  • Comment Link Guest Friday, 29 May 2009 02:40 posted by Guest

    Divorce attorneys offices: There are various divorce attorneys offices available in USA and give the best and quality service to the customers. These firms provide the strong and open communication as well as mutual relationship with their customer.

  • Comment Link Guest Sunday, 24 May 2009 01:51 posted by Guest

    Hi i am Eliza from New: Hi i am Eliza from New Jersey, I personally liked the article that's been posted here. The ideas that have been given are marvelous and i would recommend it to my friends too.

  • Comment Link Guest Tuesday, 14 April 2009 11:53 posted by Guest

    I developed a different kind: I developed a different kind of relation with my divorce lawyer. I wasn't seeing him as someone who represents me but more as a confident. This was my mistake and his I might add as he listened to all my ramblings because he was hourly payed. When the divorce was over, I found myself with no one to talk to, he wouldn't answer my calls and so on.