I don’t feel like my lawyer is answering my questions. What can I do?
It is very important that your divorce lawyer responds promptly and appropriately to your questions concerning the case. Frequent communication will help you understand the process. Your attorney should explain each step of the case and the strategies that he or she plans to use in achieving a good result for you.
Answers to your questions should be in understandable terms. If the explanation is not clear, you should not be bashful about asking your lawyer to clarify his or her comments.
Your attorney has a responsibility to answer your questions for two reasons. First, it’s a part of his or her job to keep you informed and to respond to your questions. When a divorce lawyer takes on a case, he or she should realize this. It comes with the territory.
Secondly, Illinois divorce lawyers are required by law to keep the client informed. Section 508 of the Illinois Divorce Statute states that, “The counsel will keep the client reasonably informed about the status of representation and will promptly respond to reasonable requests for information…” This is Illinois divorce law, and your divorce attorney must comply.
You must make your questions known to your lawyer. You should do this in a clear and concise manner. It’s a good idea to write your questions down so that you will cover everything when you speak with your lawyer. Be sure to take notes of your attorney’s answer. You might want to leave space on your pad after each question for your notes of the lawyer’s answer. This way, you will have a record of your questions and the attorney’s answers, and you can look back at this information as the case progresses.
Your lawyer will most likely bill you for the time on the telephone in dealing with your questions. This is money well spent because staying well informed is so very important. You can save money by waiting to call your attorney until you have several questions rather than making separate calls for each question.
If your lawyer does not respond to your telephone calls, send him a letter. Tell him in the letter that he has not returned your calls and ask him to call you. Also, tell him that you have questions and need answers from him.
If you still don’t hear from your attorney after the calls and the letter, it’s probably time to hire a new lawyer. It is not uncommon for parties to switch lawyers during a case. If this happens, your attorney is required to turn over all of the papers and to refund the unused portion of your retainer.
Remember, your divorce lawyer works for you, not vice versa. If you are not comfortable with the relationship, don’t hesitate to move to a new family-law attorney. The divorce process is difficult, but a good relationship with an attorney who is responsive to your needs makes things much easier.
Jay A. Frank is a senior divorce practitioner with Aronberg Goldgehn Davis & Garmisa in Chicago. He has been selected as one of the top family-law attorneys in Illinois. With more than 35 years of experience, he focuses his practice on all aspects of Illinois family law. He can be reached at (312) 828-9600. View his Divorce Magazine profile.