Choosing a divorce attorney can be difficult. You're already under severe stress because your marriage is ending, and perhaps you're dealing with other family law issues like child custody, property division, or spousal support.
If you've already chosen an attorney, how do you know you made the right call? Sometimes it's hard to tell if you made a good decision. Maybe you have a good attorney but your personalities clash?
Additionally, you may have unrealistic expectations as to what your attorney can do for you. With that said, there are red flags to look out for when dealing with an attorney. To help you out, we put together a list of four signs that your attorney is a bad attorney.
The number one complaint regarding most attorneys is that he or she was unresponsive. Does your attorney take forever to return your calls or emails, or not respond at all? This can be a huge red flag, especially if you're asking time-sensitive questions. With that said, it's important to remember that a good attorney may not respond to every inquiry simply because he or she knows that the answer is not relevant to your case.
Because most family law attorneys charge by the hour, you definitely want to be careful to not be constantly calling and emailing your attorney, as they could really run up your bill.
If you're concerned that your attorney is being unresponsive, you should consider scheduling an in-office meeting to discuss your concerns. Make sure you have a clear understanding regarding future communications.
Do you spend a lot of time arguing with your attorney over what you want out of the representation? Two things may be happening. First, you may have unrealistic expectations. Second, you may have an attorney who isn't truly interested in fighting for you.
You want an attorney to argue on your behalf, instead of spending time arguing with you. If you're not sure why you and your attorney aren't seeing eye to eye, seek a second opinion to better understand if your goals are realistic.
If it appears that your goals are realistic but you and your current attorney don't agree, then it may be time to find new representation.
Does your attorney miss court dates or always seem to forget important details regarding your case? This could mean that your attorney is handling too many cases or simply isn't taking your case seriously. It's unrealistic to expect your attorney to remember every single detail of your case. However, he or she should be clear on the central facts and they should never miss a court date.
Don't let a forgetful attorney harm your case. If this problem exists with your current attorney, make sure you express your concerns in writing and consider finding new representation.
4. Fish Out of Water
What many family law litigants fail to understand is that the practice of law is local. In other words, your attorney should practice in the city where your case is being held. A local attorney will know the local judges, clerks, and other local attorneys. Family courts commonly rely on experts when making a determination regarding things like child custody. A local attorney will know the local experts that commonly appear before the judges where your case is being held. You don't want to hire an attorney unfamiliar with the court where your case is being held. Remember, just because your attorney is licensed to practice law in your state, it doesn't mean that he or she is familiar with the court and key players where your case will be adjudicated.
We hope this overview helps you determine whether or not you have a bad attorney. If you feel that you're not being adequately represented, please take the time to meet with other attorneys. While family law orders are generally modifiable, it helps to get it right the first time.