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Can I Change Attorneys in the Middle of My California Divorce?

At the Land Legal Group, our Los Angeles, California family law attorneys understand the frustrating circumstances that can evolve throughout the process of ending a marriage.

Whether you fully agreed to the divorce, if it is contested, or was a sincere surprise, once the proceedings begin, the main objective is to finalize the agreement once and for all. Unfortunately, not all divorces are that easy.

Some require months to reach an agreement. Others, years. Each divorce is unique, and depending on the couple’s relationship, the demands, negotiations, and paperwork can prolong the proceedings long enough for clients to ask, “Is my divorce attorney doing everything he or she can?”

Since every divorce case is different, we cannot speak to a client’s unique attorney experience or provide advice on when you should change attorneys without discussing your case in person.

However, as experienced family law attorneys in Los Angeles County, we can provide insight on the common reasons people do switch divorce attorneys, and provide the reassurance they need that it is okay to do so if you feel as though your lawyer is not professionally handling your case.

What Are the Most Common Reasons People Switch Divorce Attorneys in California?

It is not uncommon to switch attorneys in the middle of divorce proceedings, spousal support talks, or child support and child custody cases.

The most common reasons people pursue new representation can include their current attorney:

  • Rarely, or never returns phone calls or emails
  • Consistently misses court appearances
  • Does not provide adequate updates on what is happening with their case
  • Has not followed through on promises to make requests or act on details important to the case
  • Communicates in an insulting or intimidating way towards their client
  • Lacks the integrity to update their client on their current bill, either regularly or when requested
  • Continues to request the same documents multiple times, even though they have been submitted
  • Misses any deadlines established by the court, or asks for extensive continuances because he or she is not prepared to move forward

All divorces are unique, and your relationship with your attorney must be one that is built on trust and communication. If you believe your attorney is falling short due to their lack of experience or another personal reason, you can seek new counsel to take over your case during any part of your divorce proceedings.

Change Divorce Attorneys Without Disrupting Your Proceedings

If you are unhappy with your existing counsel, there are several steps you can take to switch attorneys without disrupting your proceedings.

The first step is to find a new divorce attorney before ending your relationship with your current attorney. This will ensure that your rights are always protected and that you are not left in a vulnerable position without legal representation.

Once you sign a contract with the new divorce attorney, alert him or her of any upcoming hearing dates and filing deadlines immediately to protect the integrity of your case.

Only after you have retained a new attorney should you end your relationship with your current divorce lawyer. Be sure to write a letter of termination that includes the date, the contact information of your new counsel, and a formal request to forward your case’s materials to the new lawyer right away.

Next, ask for copies of your outstanding bills with the existing attorney. If you began your relationship by paying a retainer fee, verify the balance and ask for a refund, when applicable.

Welcome Your New Los Angeles Divorce Attorney to Your Case

Your new divorce lawyer must file an “Entry of Appearance” document notifying the court that he or she is handling your case going forward. Your spouse’s attorney should also receive a copy of the document, so he or she is aware of the change.

This official notification allows your new attorney to represent you, so he or she can get started on producing results.

If you are considering a divorce, and are not sure how to move forward, contact our experienced divorce attorneys at the Land Legal Group today by calling 310-552-3500 to schedule a free consultation. We will fully outline your legal options and provide a compassionate approach to creating solutions for your unique circumstances, so you can make informed decisions about your future.

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