What if my lawyer won’t act on my behalf?
Any legal proceeding is adversarial by nature and that’s doubly true of a divorce, but that doesn’t mean there should be conflict between an individual and his or her lawyer. That’s one relationship in the process that should be free of negative feelings, especially when you consider that you’re paying the divorce lawyer to be your advocate. So, what do you do, when you lose faith in your lawyer?
When An Attorney Isn’t Acting On Your Behalf
To begin, if you feel your attorney isn’t acting in your best interests, this indicates a loss or lack of trust and may even indicate a lack of professionalism on the lawyer’s part. Specific concerns may involve an attorney refusing to advocate for the divorce or custody terms you want. Additionally, the lawyer may be brushing off your concerns as unimportant, or may be avoiding you altogether. These are all valid complaints and not typical behavior of professional, ethically-bound attorneys.
Your first move in reconciling a situation like this should be to confront your attorney in person and explain your concerns. Make it clear that you’re not happy with how he has been handling your situation. During this meeting, you should insist that he cooperate and communicate more fully with you, so you can both work towards your desired goals.
In the event that the meeting doesn’t go well, you may want to consider seeking out other divorce attorneys. First, you’ll want to get a second opinion on your case and determine if the first attorney’s reasons for not handling your case to your satisfaction are valid. You also may want to consider hiring a new attorney, someone with whom you feel more comfortable and confident. Whether you choose to retain a new lawyer or stick with your first lawyer, your advocate should engender your trust and respect.
What Can You Reasonably Expect From Your Lawyer?
When you hire a lawyer to represent you in a divorce, child custody case, or any matter, he or she should make you aware of your rights as a client. This means making sure that, while you are in charge of your case, the lawyer will explain what you can expect from the legal partnership between the two of you.
Specifically, the attorney can tell you what you can expect and what is important in your case, which will also involve giving you a timeline, concerning when events should take place. The attorney knows from experience what requirements the court will place on you and how long it will take to fulfill those obligations, during the process.
Your lawyer is also obligated to give you an estimate of what his or her services will cost. This includes analyzing the costs of multiple strategies to help you determine which is the best course of action for your situation. One aspect of this might be explaining the risks of going to trial, as opposed to reaching a settlement with the other party. Additionally, delays in the process or a change in hearing dates should be explained to you in advance.
It’s essential that you feel confident that your attorney is acting in your best interests. If you doubt his dedication to your case, or feel he’s inadequate to the task of representing you, it may be best for all concerned to find a new attorney.