Getting a divorce or breaking off a significant relationship is difficult. Many of your friends have opinions about the best way to proceed. Your lawyer suggests a different path. The case may not be moving along fast enough. You are still fearful that the overall outcome will not be in your favor.
If you are uncertain that the advice you are receiving from your lawyer is correct, it’s time to get a second opinion. We accept that when we are facing a major medical procedure that it’s wise to get a second opinion. The same is true in divorce.
There is a difference between getting a second opinion and looking for a lawyer who agrees with your unconventional way of completing your divorce. More on that later.
Getting a second opinion means being brutally honest with the second lawyer. Consult with someone who has strong family law experience. Bring all the court papers with you to the interview. Tell him what has occurred thus far and why you question the advice you are getting from your current lawyer. Then listen to what the second lawyer has to say. Frequently, that person’s advice will be that you should follow the advice of your current lawyer. However, if the second lawyer proposes significant changes in the way you should complete your divorce and you prefer the advice of the second lawyer, then consider changing lawyers. You should factor in the cost of switching attorneys. The substitute lawyer will need to learn your case. They will charge for the time it takes to review your file. So, consider whether there is enough difference in the representation to justify changing lawyers.
Sometimes, your current lawyer may encourage you to get a second opinion, particularly when the lawyer and you are frequently locking horns over the correct approach or position that you want the lawyer to take. Your lawyer may want you to get reinforcement that the advice you are getting is sound. Your lawyer may actually want you to change attorneys since he is concerned that you evidently lack trust in his judgment. You should take your current lawyer’s advice and confer with another attorney. You may find a better fit for your style of approaching problem solving or you may be reassured that the advice you are receiving from your current attorney will lead to a good outcome.
One thing to remember is that changing lawyers needs to occur well before a significant hearing or trial, so that the second attorney has sufficient time to learn the case and engage in any additional discovery or arrange mediation or other settlement discussions. So, if you are dissatisfied with your current attorney, act now; not two weeks before trial.
If you have already changed attorneys during your case and are ready to move on to another substitute attorney, ask yourself why are you dissatisfied with the prior or current counsel? If you are not making good progress in mediation sessions or in court, you should ask yourself whether the position that you are taking is realistic. Are you “lawyer shopping;” trying to find a lawyer who shares your legal judgment? If your position is not consistent with the law in your state or the philosophy of the judge to whom you are assigned, hiring a third or subsequent lawyer is probably not going to get you the outcome you want. You may need to consider that your position is not going to prevail in court no matter who represents you.
You should be satisfied with your attorney’s representation. If your current counsel is not providing you with the confidence that you are being well represented, then getting another opinion is a good idea.