Can I Change My Attorney During Texas Divorce Proceedings?

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Brett Pritchard Law

Updated on May 8, 2023

If you are facing a divorce, you are facing a highly charged transition in your life, and your parental and financial rights are also on the line. Having an experienced Round Rock divorce attorney in your corner from the start is in your best interest.

If you have doubts about the attorney you are currently working with, it can leave you at a distinct disadvantage, and you may have no idea how best to proceed.

Often, people seeking a divorce wish to change their attorneys while their proceedings are ongoing. But can you actually change your attorney during divorce proceedings?

While Texas law does not prohibit people from changing attorneys while their divorce is underway, it is critical to weigh the pros and cons of firing your attorney and hiring a new one before making the switch.

Before changing your attorney, it is vital to understand why you are dissatisfied with your current attorney. In many cases, clients in divorce cases are unhappy with their legal representation due to poor communication, lack of experience, and disagreements about strategy.

At The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, our Round Rock divorce attorneys are prepared to take on cases that were handled by other attorneys. Schedule a case review with our law firm to determine whether or not it would be reasonable to change your attorney during your divorce proceedings in Texas.

What’s at Stake

To begin, it is important to recap exactly what is at stake in your divorce. Yes, divorce is an emotional challenge, but there is even more to it than that. Divorce is the legal dissolution of your marriage contract, and in the course of finalizing your divorce, you will need to address each of the following terms that apply:

The Division of Your Marital Property

The division of your marital property will directly affect your finances moving forward, and it is often one of the most highly contested terms of a divorce.

All the assets that you and your spouse acquired (either together or separately) while you were married are considered marital property. Upon divorce, these assets must be divided between you in a manner that is deemed fair, considering the applicable circumstances.

Your Child Custody Arrangements

You must also decide how you and your ex divide your time with your shared children. Your rights as a parent are paramount, so you need a skilled divorce lawyer to protect them.

You will have to transition from your children spending every night under your roof to dividing these overnights with your ex, which can be extremely difficult. The options when it comes to physical custody (when your kids are with you and when they are with their other parent) include variations of the following options:

  • One of you becomes the primary custodial parent, and the children spend the majority of their overnights with that parent.

  • You and your children’s other parent divide the number of overnights you have with the kids more evenly.

You must also decide on the matter of legal custody, which determines who will be making primary parenting decisions, such as the following:

  • Decisions about your children’s healthcare needs

  • Decisions about your children’s schooling

  • Decisions about your children’s religious upbringing

  • Decisions about your children’s extracurricular activity and travel

Child Support for Your Children

Naturally, the fact that parents are divorced has no bearing on their financial responsibility to their children, and child support is the tool employed by the state to ensure that this financial support is balanced in accordance with each parent’s circumstances.

While many factors are considered in the calculation process, the primary concerns are the amount of time each parent spends with the kids and each parent’s income. However, even if you divide your parenting time evenly, you can expect the parent who is the higher earner to have the obligation of paying child support to the other parent.

Alimony

Alimony is financial support that is only ordered in those instances in which divorce leaves one spouse facing financial hardship while the other is financially able to help.

Hammering Out Your Divorce Terms

You, your divorcing spouse, and your respective divorce attorney will need to negotiate each divorce term that applies to your divorce. This negotiation process not only involves protecting your legal rights but also establishing your divorce priorities.

Fighting tooth and nail for every win is not a strategy and is not likely to do you or your children any favors. Recognizing your divorce priorities concerning your legal rights makes moving forward with purpose and civility far more doable.

A skilled divorce attorney who understands your divorce priorities is far better prepared to help you obtain divorce terms that work for you than a divorce attorney who focuses on winning at all costs.

It is important to note here that every divorce is unique, and, as a result, you will have your own unique perspectives and priorities.

If your attorney is committed to carefully strategizing for divorce terms that support your priorities within the context of your legal rights, you have very likely found a good fit. However, if you sense that your attorney has other priorities in mind, you should question if your attorney is the right one for you.

Your Divorce Attorney’s Role

You will look to your divorce attorney to protect your legal rights throughout the divorce process. In other words, he or she will play a pivotal role in your divorce.

If you sense a disconnect between you, believe your rights are not being well protected, do not feel heard, or have any other reason to doubt your divorce attorney’s commitment to your case, it is time to take stock.

If you do not get the sense that you and your attorney are a team that is moving forward in unison, your parental and financial rights may not be as well protected as they should be.

7 Reasons to Change Your Attorney While Your Divorce Case is Ongoing

Divorce is a difficult legal matter that intertwines with immense emotional upheaval, and it is not uncommon to be torn regarding any number of issues, including whether or not you need to change attorneys.

If you and your divorce attorney are working well together and you have confidence in his or her commitment to your case, it is unlikely that the thought of hiring a new attorney will even cross your mind. However, if you are considering switching attorneys, there is likely a reason for it.

While reasons clients wish to change their divorce attorneys vary from one case to another, some of the most common ones include the following issues:

1. Your Attorney Has Poor Communication Skills

Communication between a client and his or her divorce attorney is key to success. The quality of legal representation can suffer if the attorney does not return the client’s calls or fails to explain complex legal concepts in simple terms.

In addition, if you and your divorce attorney are unable to communicate openly with one another, you should consider it a red flag. It is your attorney’s job to help you feel comfortable opening up about a wide range of relevant personal matters.

The terms of your divorce will be based on your finances and your relationships with your spouse and your children, which makes it about as personal as it can be. If you are not comfortable enough to share this information with your divorce attorney, it is an issue you should not ignore.

2. Your Attorney Does Not Listen to You

It is common for clients to complain that their attorneys are bad listeners. An attorney’s poor listening skills may result in errors in court documents, incorrect filings, and wrong strategy in your divorce case. If your attorney does not fully understand what you need, he or she will not be able to help you obtain a favorable outcome.

In order to skillfully advocate for divorce terms that uphold your best interests, your attorney needs to not only communicate well with you but also connect with you, which includes understanding the issues that are most important to you and strategizing accordingly.

3. You Don’t Get Along with Your Attorney

If you find that your and your attorney’s personalities clash, it may not make much of a difference. After all, you do not have to be best friends. You do, however, need to work well together.

If the personality clash is not a deal breaker, do not give it a second thought, but if you find that it gets in the way of your case’s progress, you may need to consider finding another attorney. That being said, if your attorney’s attitude is controlling or condescending (taking an attorney knows-best approach), you should not hesitate to look elsewhere for legal guidance.

4. Your Attorney Misses Deadlines

There are strict procedures and deadlines in place when seeking a divorce in Texas. The divorce judge may not look favorably upon your attorney missing deadlines. You may consider hiring another law firm if your attorney is not able to handle your divorce proceedings efficiently.

5. Your Attorney Doesn’t Have Enough Time for Your Case

If your attorney engages in any of the following tell-tale time management snafus, he or she may not have the time necessary to devote to your case:

  • Routinely rescheduling your appointments

  • Rarely taking your calls and consistently taking too long to get back to you

  • Shunting you over to a junior associate or paralegal with whom you have never worked before (While attorneys are routinely part of a legal team, you should not be thrown into surprise situations.)

  • Missing deadline after deadline or routinely asking for extensions from the court

  • Causing months of delays due to scheduling conflicts

When your attorney continually exhibits these behaviors, it may be because they cannot effectively manage your legal matters.

Many attorneys handle several divorce cases at a time, so they may have difficulty keeping up with all their cases. However, attorneys are responsible for not taking on more cases than they can handle competently – and you should not pay the price for your legal counsel’s crowded case schedule.

Further, your attorney may simply have poor time management skills or may lack the passion for zealously defending the rights of every client in every case. Such an attorney is not the right divorce attorney for you.

6. You Disagree with Your Attorney on Your Divorce Strategy

You need to be on the same page as your attorney when it comes to seeking a divorce. If you cannot reach a consensus regarding your divorce strategy, it may be wise to change your attorney.

That being said, a good divorce attorney will let you know if your divorce terms are unrealistic. In this case, he or she will help you understand how the divorce terms will likely be resolved in your unique case and will collaborate with you on a reasonable divorce strategy that addresses your real priorities.

This process helps to ensure that your expectations are predicated on the legal realities of your case and that your legal efforts are focused on achieving these realistic priorities.

However, if your attorney is more interested in telling you what your priorities should be and in dictating the strategic approach you will be taking, it is a clear sign that finding a new divorce attorney is in order.

7. You Disagree about the Attorney’s Fee

To avoid disagreements, it is always advisable to have a formal agreement with your attorney that specifies attorney’s fees and structures. If you think your attorney’s fees are unreasonable, you may want to consider hiring a new attorney.

Consult with Other Attorneys

It is a good idea to consult with a new attorney to get a second opinion if you are considering changing your attorney in the middle of your divorce case. Schedule a consultation with our divorce attorneys at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to talk about your case.

Things to Consider When Changing a Divorce Attorney Mid-Case

There are certain things you need to consider when changing your attorney during divorce proceedings:

Divorces Progress Slowly

Your attorney may not fully control the progress of your divorce case. While some divorces are resolved fairly quickly, others can take months.

You may not hear from your attorney about the updates in your divorce case for weeks on end. However, your attorney may not be to blame for the lack of developments in your case. The delays in your divorce case may be caused by overloaded court dockets.

Speak with Your Attorney First

Your attorney may not know that you are unhappy with their legal representation. If you do not tell your attorney that they are not doing what you want them to do, they may not realize that you are unhappy with something.

For this reason, it may be a good idea to speak with your attorney and tell them what you do not like before changing your attorney in the middle of your divorce.

Consider Other Factors

When you are going through a divorce, the goal is generally to get the matter finalized as quickly as possible – without cutting corners in terms of protecting your legal rights. You obviously do not want to drag out the divorce process any longer than is necessary.

If you are considering changing divorce attorneys, you should carefully consider the amount of disruption involved in doing so. The bottom line is that you do not want to lose any progress that you have made to date and do not want to prolong the process any more than is absolutely necessary.

If you do not feel like you are making any progress with your current counsel, this may be an easy decision. However, if you are simply having doubts, the decision to change divorce attorneys can be more complicated.

It is also important to carefully consider the amount of time and expense you have already put in with your current attorney before changing course. If you switch attorneys, you will need to begin the search process all over again. You will also need to allow your new counsel the time necessary to get up to speed with your case.

Finally, if you have a court date scheduled that is quickly approaching, switching attorneys is probably not advisable.

How to Change a Divorce Attorney in the Middle of Your Divorce?

The process of changing an attorney in the middle of divorce proceedings may seem too overwhelming. The last thing you need is to lose your case just because you are unable to find a replacement in a timely manner. In order to ensure that you make the right choice when hiring a new divorce attorney, follow these steps:

Find the Right Attorney

Interview more than one divorce attorney who might be a good fit for your divorce case. A good candidate should be willing to take on your case despite the fact that the divorce case is already ongoing.

Ensure the Timing Is Right

Make sure that it is the right time to change your divorce attorney. The timing of changing your attorney mid-case is critical. Generally, it is not advisable – and, in many cases, impossible – to fire your current attorney in the days or weeks preceding a court hearing or trial. As such, if you are considering switching attorneys, be sure to do so well before your court date.

Hold Off on Firing Your Current Attorney

Do not fire your current divorce attorney until you are absolutely certain about your new choice. The worst thing that can happen is firing your attorney too soon and not being represented at all until you find a replacement.

Give Your New Attorney Time

Make sure that your attorney has a sufficient amount of time to get up to speed. Depending on the complexity of your divorce case, your new attorney may need hours or days to ensure that they are up-to-date about what is going on.

Consult with a Round Rock Divorce Attorney

If you are considering changing your current divorce attorney in the middle of your case, do not hesitate to receive a free consultation from our attorneys at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard. Our attorneys will review your particular situation and advise you on your options. Get a FREE consultation with our attorney by contacting us online or calling us at (254) 781-4222.

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