This is a common problem. I can’t tell you how many cases I have picked up from divorce lawyers who simply do not adequately communicate with their clients.
To begin with, you should make a pest of yourself (unless, of course, your divorce lawyer has stopped calling you because you are already being a pest. You need to consider whether that is the problem). However, a common problem simply is that the lawyer is too busy, as many are. You need to call several times a day. If it fails, you need to send letters requesting the status of the case. If the divorce lawyer has an e-mail address, you could e-mail him or her as well. You can ask the secretary to set up a time to meet, or even a time to talk on the phone. When you do reach the divorce lawyer, you should make a list of subjects to cover so your time with the lawyer is well-spent.
Failing to get any satisfactory response, you will need to change divorce lawyers. It is important to begin your search right away because if the lawyer misses deadlines or messes up your case, it will affect you. In most states, the judge will not let you use “my lawyer messed up” as an excuse, because the lawyer is authorized to act on your behalf.
Things not to do:
- You should not contact the opposing divorce attorney.
- You should not contact the judge. (I know this is tempting because a divorce lawyer not returning calls is so frustrating.)
Paul L. Feinstein, a Chicago practitioner with over four decades of experience, practices family law with an emphasis on divorce litigation, consulting, and appeals. Paul is often hired by trial lawyers to handle appeals and to assist them with determining legal strategies and preserving a sufficient record at trial. He has belonged to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers since 1991 and the Appellate Lawyers Association since 2010. He can be reached at (312) 346-6392. View his Divorce Magazine profile.