6 Signs You’ve Hired the Wrong Divorce Attorney
Unfortunately, no matter how good a divorce attorney is, or was for someone else, you could find yourself in a situation where your attorney just isn’t doing what you think they should be doing.
Classic problems might include taking too long to get back to you, flagrant inaction on your case, not doing what they say they will do, not keeping you apprised of developments in a timely way, and missing court deadlines.
Hiring the right family law attorney for your divorce or other family law proceeding is important. The right lawyer can mean the difference between getting the custody rights you want, protecting the assets you want to keep, and getting the financial support you need. Not all lawyers are created equal
Sign You’ve Hired the Wrong Divorce Attorney
They lack communication skills:
Good attorneys should regularly communicate what is going on with your case. Lawyers should display a willingness to answer our questions. If you are battling for the custody of your children’s custody or struggling because you are not receiving child support, you need an attorney who will keep you apprised of every step of the process.
If you continuously struggle to contact your lawyer, and they often do not return phone calls and messages, it is a bad sign. Yes, attorneys get busy, but that is no excuse for ignoring their other clients. Your attorney’s office should have staff that can answer your questions or schedules appointments or phone calls where the attorney can talk with you.
They are Unprofessional:
While the first three items are signs that you do not have a good attorney, on this one we start to move into things that could begin to move toward unethical or illegal actions that can reach to malpractice.
Your lawyer’s actions can have a substantial negative impact on your case, especially if they cross the line into unethical or illegal behavior. You may want to win your case, but if your attorney is breaking the law or lying to help you do so, then you are both at risk of serious consequences. Unprofessional or unethical behavior can include:
- Arriving late or failing to show up for important meetings, or missing court dates.
- Making decisions of importance about your case without discussing it with you first.
- Missing filing deadlines, filing paperwork incorrectly or filing the wrong paperwork with the court.
- Refusing to return your calls or messages within a reasonable timeframe.
- Knowing there is a conflict of interest in your case, but proceeding despite the ethical problem.
They Have Bad Billing Practices:
Attorneys have a responsibility to their clients to not only bill clients only for services provided but also to provide bills that clearly indicate what work the attorney is charging for. Attorneys who provide imprecise or opaque bills that bury the actual work they perform may be trying to charge clients for work not actually performed, or double-charging different clients for the same work.
They may simply be churning out busy work to generate bills without actually progressing your interests. Make sure your family lawyer tells you how much their services cost and makes it clear what they are doing for you to incur those charges.
They Have a Negative Attitude:
Your attorney is supposed to be your advocate, in and out of the courtroom. While you don’t want a lawyer who paints an unrealistically rosy picture of a tough battle ahead, you should have a lawyer who seems to be fighting the fight for you.
A lawyer who is overly negative, complaining, or condescending is likely to not only make your conversations uncomfortable and unpleasant; their negative attitude is likely to adversely affect your case. Find a lawyer who solves problems, not a lawyer who becomes your problem.
They Lack Experience:
Every lawyer you come across will have a different level of experience. There’s nothing wrong with hiring a less-experienced attorney, but if they show signs of faltering proficiency, you probably shouldn’t trust them with your case. Your lawyer should be well versed in divorce laws, no matter their experience.
They Give You a Bad Feeling:
If your lawyer gives you a bad feeling, you don’t need to spend time analyzing why. You’re stuck with this person for six months to a year, and you’re trusting them with personal information — they shouldn’t make you feel uncomfortable.
If you find that you have hired a bad attorney and he or she is not willing to address your concerns, the best decision may be to seek new counsel. As scary as that may seem, you need to keep in mind that the decisions being made will affect the rest of your life and your children’s lives.