Don’t switch lawyers too hastily

Posted August 19th, 2016.

Categories: Custody Tips, Family Law.

switching lawyers mark guralnick

Because child custody disputes are among the most contentious and emotional forms of litigation, parents often become dissatisfied with their lawyers and they switch counsel. Sometimes this is necessary, but often it is is not.

The most common reasons for dissatisfaction with lawyers are (a) failure to return phone calls or to otherwise keep the client informed and (b) failure to take aggressive action to protect the client’s interests. Sometimes, a parent discharges a lawyer because the lawyer has performed badly or inadequately in court, or because the parent blames the lawyer for a bad result in court.

My advice: Think twice before you change lawyers. A new lawyer will need time to get up to speed, and this may give an advantage to the other parent or his lawyer. A new lawyer will not have an instant appreciation for the nuances of the case, the judge’s attitude, the other attorney’s negotiating style, or perhaps the full history of the case outside of the court record.

When a parent switches lawyers frequently, the opposing lawyer is likely to use this information against that parent: “You’re honor, Mr. Jones doesn’t pay his child support or his lawyers–this is now his third lawyer in this case. And with all due respect to my colleague, he’s making the same argument now for the third time, which your honor has ruled against twice before.”

If there is a breakdown in communications with your lawyer, I recommend that you schedule a face-to-face meeting to discuss the terms of the relationship and what your expectations are. Iron out the problems, if you can, before simply switching attorneys.

If the attorney remains unresponsive or you have good reasons to believe that he or she can no longer serve your interests, then you should act promptly to switch lawyers and exert every effort to get your new lawyer on board quickly.

Tell me if you have any personal experiences in this regard.

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