When you're in a rocky relationship, there may come a time when you realize it's in your best interest to break up and move on. Breaking up is hard to do, especially when you're invested in the relationship and the uncertainty of what lies ahead is more daunting than the thought of staying behind. In a divorce, this is especially true since all the comforts of your past are no longer the face of your future.
In a divorce, you are mourning the death of your relationship and so the last thing you want to worry about is another difficult relationship...but with your divorce attorney. If anything, the legal assistance that you seek and require in this difficult circumstance should somewhat ease the burden of divorce.
Unfortunately, that is not always the reality for some individuals who are in difficult attorney-client relationships. But how do you know you're in an attorney-client relationship terrible enough to warrant a break-up?
Here are five signs that it might be time to cut-ties with your divorce attorney and find a better fit for you and your situation:
1. Your attorney blows you off: If your attorney does not return your calls or emails within a reasonable time frame, this may be cause for concern. Communication with your attorney is key in order to move your case forward and to resolution. If he or she refuses to return your calls or answer your questions, it might be time to start looking for alternative representation and find an attorney who will pay attention to you and your concerns.
2. Your attorney keeps you in the dark about your case: It is not in your best interests if your attorney is not keeping you informed of the details of your case. For example, if you are kept in the dark about communications your attorney is having with your spouse's attorney, or you are not privy to documents being prepared or exchanged on your behalf, then it's time to raise the red flag. You have the right to know what is happening in your case, so demand it.
3. Your attorney makes unilateral decisions without your input or approval: While your attorney is knowledgeable about the legalities of your case, your input and approval is necessary because the decisions will affect your life. That is why it is important that your attorney consults with you before any major decisions are made about your case. As such, if you do not understand the terms and concepts of what is occurring, it is imperative that you ask your lawyer to explain the process and what it will mean for you and your family now and in the long-term.
4. You and your attorney don't see eye-to-eye on strategy: In a divorce, you will be faced with very important choices as to how you want your case to proceed. While there may be moments where you and your attorney may disagree, there should be agreement on the overall strategy in terms of bringing your case to resolution. If you are inclined to proceed with a negotiated divorce and your attorney is pushing you towards a litigated one or vice versa, your current attorney-client relationship may not necessarily be the best fit. To avoid any surprises, it's best to discuss your vision from the get-go of your relationship.
5. Your attorney hasn't researched or prepared for Court: If you get the sense that your attorney doesn't know the details of your case and isn't prepared for Court appearances, it may be prudent to start asking your lawyer questions about his or her lack of preparation. You have hired your attorney to represent your interests and to be your voice. If he or she does not know your case and you're doing much of the legwork, it may be in your best interest to move on to a new attorney-client relationship.
Remember that in a divorce, you're already dealing with a challenging situation. Your attorney should not make the process more difficult, but rather assist you in navigating the somewhat overwhelming legal system. Like any healthy relationship, communication is key!