Making a decision to fire your divorce attorney, for whatever reason, is one that must be done according to court approved methods and protocols.
The State Bar of Texas allows clients to fire their attorney at will. This means a client has an right to be represented by the counsel of their choice and is not stuck with an attorney they have lost confidence in. However, it does not mean that the client will not owe their prior lawyer any money that the attorney has earned under the prior fee agreement.
This blog post will detail the ins and outs of that process.
Good reasons why you may want to change divorce lawyers
Some good reasons why you may want to change lawyers include:
- Your lawyer is not responding to your calls or emails. You are having a difficult time getting your questions answered by either your lawyer or their staff.
- Your lawyer seems unprepared in court or mediation
- Your lawyer seems to lack a knowledge of the facts of your case.
- Your lawyer does not seem to have a plan on how to move forward with your case.
What to do when you are thinking about firing your attorney
To begin, if you want to fire your attorney you should:
- do so in writing. Lawyers have a rule that we live by: always get it in writing. This is a rule that a client should remember as well.
- Give your the decision some thought, you should re-read your contract with the lawyer. There may be some provision in your attorney-client contract that allows the attorney to hold a "lien" against your case which entitles him or her to a portion of any settlement or judgment from a court if you do not pay your lawyer for work already completed on your case.
- Request a copy of your file. In Texas, you have a right to a copy of your file. It belongs to you and your attorney must provide you a copy upon request even if you owe them some money.
Hire a New Lawyer As Soon as Possible
Hiring a new divorce attorney is something you should do immediately prior or immediately after firing your current attorney. If you hire a new attorney prior to firing your old attorney your new attorney can help you with the firing and transition.
If you do not hire a new attorney prior to firing your old attorney
Your former attorney will need to:
file an agreed motion to withdraw as counsel on your case, which will allow your new attorney to file an appearance as attorney of record moving forward.
This means that any communications from the court or the attorney representing your spouse will be directed to you and not your former attorney until you hire a new attorney.
If you hire a new attorney prior to firing your old attorney
Your new attorney will need to:
- File a motion to substitute counsel and
- Circulate an agreed order on motion to substitute counsel
If everyone signs off on the order, then it will just need to be filed with the court. If someone does not sign off, then your new attorney will set it for a hearing and the judge will then sign off on the order.
It will be incredibly important for your new attorney to work with your former attorney on getting copies of your entire file in order so they can be brought up to speed as quickly as possible so that your case proceeds along as efficiently as possible. It is illegal for your former attorney to withhold your file. After all: it is your case they're representing you on, not the other way around.
The court in which your case is filed will typically have no issue with your hiring a new attorney unless it is done immediately prior to an important date on the case's calendar such as a trial date. A motion to withdraw as counsel must be approved by the court and is not a given although under most circumstances the opposing lawyer will agree to the motion making the issue moot.
What Not to Do
- Don't be hasty and send an angry email to your lawyer right before you go to bed at night
- When hiring, a new lawyer avoid speaking negatively of your old attorney. Many divorce lawyers work closely together in the court system.
- Avoid speaking negatively of your old attorney with the court and court personnel chances are they know your old attorney as well.
As we touched on in the outset of this essay, firing your attorney is not a decision to be taken lightly. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are willing to assist you with your family law matter. Whether we're the first attorney you've hired or not- we will work alongside you to ensure that your issues are handled competently and effectively.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
Other Articles you may be interested in:
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- Roadmap of Basic Divorce Procedure in Texas
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- 6 Mistakes that can Destroy Your Texas Divorce Case
- 10 Quick Tips About Parental Visitation
- Does it Matter who Files First in a Texas Divorce?
- Can I sue my spouse's mistress in Texas?
- My Spouse Has Accused Me of Adultery in my Texas Divorce and I Haven't
- When is, Cheating Considered Adultery in a Texas Divorce?
- Sex, Lies, Rock-and-roll, and Adultery in a Texas Divorce
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.