Can I change attorneys once divorce proceedings are underway?

lawyer shaking hands with client

Not all attorney-client relationships are the perfect match. Changing attorneys in the midst of a Texas divorce is allowed and may be a good option—but not always. Before you decide to make the switch, it’s important to pinpoint why you’re unhappy with your divorce attorney and whether it makes sense timing-wise to change lawyers now.

Changing divorce attorneys midstream is not uncommon. In fact, at the Sisemore Law Firm in Fort Worth, about 30 percent of the divorce cases we take on are for clients who worked with a different attorney initially. These clients typically want to switch attorneys for one of three reasons—poor communication, personality issues or a disagreement about strategy.

Watch Justin’s video about switching divorce attorneys »

You deserve prompt and clear communication from your attorney

If you’re working with a one-man show or a smaller law firm, oftentimes they won’t have the time or resources to get back to you promptly. We’ll be the first to admit it. In our firm’s early days, we didn’t have the robust staff and processes we have today, and consequently, client communication suffered. We even lost clients because of it and deservedly so.

Another thing we were guilty of early on was assuming it would be easy for our clients to understand all of the legal-speak we threw their way, not to mention the intricacies of the law. Today, we make it a point to explain even the simplest of details and why we’re doing certain things. That way the client has a clear understanding of the status and direction of his or her case.

Many prospective clients also tell us they can’t even get their attorney to call them back, much less get an explanation for what the attorney is doing or an answer to a simple question. If that’s the situation in your case, you need to make a switch—as long as the timing is right (more on that below).

Communication can also suffer when the client only corresponds with the attorney by email or phone. It’s important to schedule time to meet face-to-face with your divorce lawyer when you have concerns. He or she will be more focused on you and your case one-on-one, and you’ll be more likely to hash things out in person than you would over email.

Get tips on how to choose a divorce attorney »

When personalities don’t mesh, changing divorce attorneys is probably a good idea

It’s really important to work with a divorce attorney you feel comfortable with because it almost always makes the process less stressful. If your attorney rubs you the wrong way, isn’t empathetic enough or is not direct enough for your tastes, find one who is.

At our Fort Worth law firm, we have a dynamic team with several attorneys on staff, all with different points of view, areas of expertise and, you’ve got it, personalities. We match clients with the legal team (lead attorney, paralegals, support staff, etc.) we believe is the best fit in the realm of experience, area of specialization and personality.

If you disagree on divorce strategy, either a new attorney or reality check is in order

There’s no question: It’s essential that the client and divorce attorney be on the same page regarding the strategic direction and plan for the divorce. For example, if you prefer to have an amicable split with the other party and the attorney wants to go guns-a-blazing into litigation, you’re probably not on the same page.

On the other hand, if you’re asking the attorney to pursue avenues that aren’t realistic, then it may be time for a reality check. For example, some people think they’re going to walk away with a huge divorce settlement, excessive spousal support or sole custody of a child when the legal guidelines or the court won’t allow it. Are your expectations for the divorce or child custody realistic?

When we meet with prospective clients looking to change attorneys, we give it to them straight. If we believe their current attorney is recommending a strategy that makes sense, we’ll say so.

Timing is critical: When you SHOULDN’T change divorce attorneys

When a prospective client comes to us, one of the key components we analyze—and what the client should analyze—is what stage they are in the case. If it’s a month before trial or the discovery deadlines have passed, it’s a really dangerous time to even think about switching attorneys.

Since we take a deep dive into each prospective client’s case when they come in for the initial consultation at the Sisemore Law Firm, we’re able to say up front whether it’s a good time to change lawyers or not. If a prospective client wants to switch to our firm, we’ll only take on their case when and if the timing is right.

Looking for honest advice from a divorce attorney in Tarrant County?

If you live in Tarrant County and are considering changing attorneys, we’d be happy to speak with you. You can expect a thorough review of your case and honest recommendations for next steps—whether that means staying with your existing attorney or working with us. To schedule a confidential, one-on-one consultation, give us a call at 817.406.2470 or visit our contact page.

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