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“Can I Change Attorneys Once Divorce Proceedings Are Underway?”
If you’re facing a divorce, it’s essential that you have total faith and trust in your attorney and his or her firm. When divorce proceedings begin, you want a lawyer who can not only handle the issues that arise along the way, but also guide you and calm your nerves about the process.
But in some cases, you may end up with an attorney who doesn’t meet these qualifications. So, can you change your divorce attorney once the proceedings have begun? Let’s take a look at the law and how it might apply to your situation.
The Answer is Yes You Can Change Attorneys, But…
There are a few things you need to do as you go about changing attorneys, including:
1. Inform your divorce attorney that you wish to terminate their services.
2. Request your final bill and pay the balance left after your retainer is figured in.
3. Get a copy of your file from your current attorney. (This will save you money when you find a new attorney, as they won’t have to do as much preliminary work getting started on your case.)
4. Find a new attorney and inform him or her of what you expect from their practice. Be totally honest about your previous experience and why you chose to get another attorney.
Why Would I Want to Change Attorneys During My Divorce Proceedings?
Here are a few reasons you might want to obtain a new family law attorney to represent you:
- Your attorney is dragging his or her feet on your case and it’s stalling in the process.
- Your attorney is not meeting deadlines on filing papers or is not showing up when you have a court appearance.
- Your attorney isn’t prioritizing your case.
- Your attorney is making easy mistakes that show he or she isn’t really paying attention to your case.
- Your attorney’s behavior is such that you’ve lost confidence in his or her ability to win your case.
- Your attorney is acting in a totally unprofessional manner such as using profanity, yelling, or even failing to adhere to client confidentiality.
- Your attorney isn’t returning your calls and messages promptly.
Here Are Qualities and Services You Should Look for In a New Family Law Attorney
Choosing a new attorney after you’ve already picked one may seem like a tough task. However, it’s essential that you choose one as soon as possible to prevent problems with your case. To that end, here are ideas to help you choose an attorney you’ll feel more confident with:
- Experience: Your attorney should have many years working in the family law courts of New Jersey. Choosing an experienced law firm that only deals with family law will ensure you have the best connections to professionals you’ll need during proceedings as well as an attorney that knows all the ins and outs of how your case needs to be presented.
- Know your attorneys: Any attorney is legally able to represent you in a divorce. However, in New Jersey, attorneys can also be certified in certain specialty fields. A certified matrimonial attorney, like Smedley Law Group founder Ali Smedley, Esq., has been cited by the New Jersey Supreme Court as having the experience and educational expertise to be considered a specialist in marriage and divorce law. It’s smart to choose someone with this distinction so you know that he or she is an expert in that branch of law.
- Find the right fit: Once again, it’s essential you’re comfortable with your attorney. Communication here is key and you want to find an attorney who’ll communicate openly with you and be honest in their approach. Be sure to schedule a consultation with your prospective attorney to make sure it’s a good fit.
- Know how much representation will cost: Divorces aren’t cheap, and they should be seen as a means of ensuring your financial security in the years to come. Make sure that you understand exactly what your contract states and how much the retainer and hourly fees are. Although they can give you an estimate of how much it might cost, there’s no way to know the final bill in advance as each case is different with its own needs.
- Find a way to keep your costs down: If you’re worried about costs, then you might want to choose a different route than divorce. Some attorneys will handle a collaborative divorce or even mediation. This is a way to make your case move faster and save you money in the long run. (Check out our blog, “Will My Divorce Bankrupt Me?” for more money-saving tips from Smedley Law Group founder Ali Smedley, Esq.)
Here’s What Your New Jersey Family Law Attorney Should Offer
When you change attorneys, it’s important that your next choice is absolutely a perfect match. To do that, make sure you know what to look for this time when making your selection.
- Someone who thinks outside of the box: Anytime you can find an attorney who’s willing to try unusual or non-conventional approaches to cases can be a plus. Look for an attorney who’s willing to look at your case individually and not treat it as “just another case.”
- Someone who’s willing to call in experts: An attorney isn’t the only piece of a winning divorce team. It may be necessary to call in family psychologists, custody experts, financial managers, and the like to help put together a winning case.
- Someone who’s realistic: A divorce can bring in lots of emotions that can cloud your own judgment. That’s why you need an attorney who can remain realistic and not let this be a deterrent to your case.
Divorce is an emotional process, and it can be tempting to make a rash decision. However, you may want to think carefully before switching lawyers during your divorce proceedings. You should thoroughly explore all options before deciding what’s best for you.
Contact the Experienced Family Law Attorneys at Smedley Law Group in Cherry Hill, NJ Today
If you’re facing a divorce, you’ll need to hire a qualified attorney to represent you. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Smedley Law Group represent clients throughout the state, including West Deptford, Mantua, Runnemede, and Marlton. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 251-0800 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 750 Cooper Street, Woodbury, NJ 08096.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.