Ask Leslie: What should I do if I’m unhappy with my divorce lawyer?

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DEAR LESLIE, 

I’m unhappy with my divorce lawyer. What should I do? Is it in my best interest to change my representation?

–  Looking for More

Dear Looking for More..,

Let’s face it, the ending of a marriage is fraught with a wide range of emotions and going through the process of divorce is a challenging and stressful time – having the right lawyer can make a big difference.

While going through the divorce process, you may find that you are unhappy with your lawyer for various reasons. Before jumping ship and looking to hire someone new, it is crucial to understand why you are unhappy with your current representation.

Firstly, it may not be your lawyer, but the actual process itself that is causing you frustration. Or it could merely be the stage of loss that you are in to lead you to feel less than amicable with your lawyer. Possibly you and your lawyer have reached an impasse as to how your case is unfolding and how you believe it should be.

It is up to the lawyer based on their legal expertise and experience to decide on the best strategy. However, it is ultimately your decision to accept the settlement and or compromise presented. The alternative, a trial, allows the courts to decide your fate – not the best option. Negotiating, at the very least, offers some form of control.

Moreover, it is essential to understand that no two sets of circumstances are the same. In other words, do not compare your divorce to your friend, aunt, uncle, sister, etc…). You and your lawyer should stand as a united front to achieve a legally viable goal under your state laws and reasonable for your particular circumstances. By all means, avoid falling into the trap of feeling slighted due to unsound reasoning and unsuitable comparisons. It is natural to want to make your soon to be ex-spouse feel the hurt they may have caused you. However, this will only prolong the process resulting in a costly bill and worst, prevent you from moving on.

A divorce should leave both parties feeling comfortable and secure yet, not the winner. This process is not a competition, and there are no winners. If you should find that the lawyer you hired truly does not understand your needs and goals and is pushing you to settle for something that does not feel right at all, you can then hire new counsel.

Always discuss your concerns with your lawyer before finding someone new. In some cases, you may find that your lawyer is exceptionally compassionate and doing their best job for you.

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